The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

Predicting the effects of temperature fluctuations on crop productivity and disease dynamics
Contemporary fluctuations in climatic temperature have strong effects on both crop productivity and disease outbreaks, especially in temperate latitudes. Furthermore, these effects are likely to become more pronounced and unpredictable in the future due to global climate change. Indeed, the emergence and spread of diseases in agro-ecosystems arguably remains one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Food production needs to increase by 50% to meet the demand by 2050. Yet every year, fungal and bacterial phytopathogens in particular, cause significant damage to crops. In this scenario, predictive models for crop productivity and disease transmission are much needed. In this project, the PhD student will combine massive data on the thermal physiology of crop species and pathogens with a newly emerging mathematical theory for metabolically constrained consumer-resource dynamics[1–3] to develop an empirically-grounded, predictive framework for crop productivity, disease outbreaks, and control of these diseases by biological control agents (BCA’s) in agro-ecosystems. While agrochemicals in the form of pesticides, fungicides and anti-bacterials have been used widely to address this problem, they come with substantial economic, social and environmental costs and are often unsustainable due to the evolution of resistance [4,5]. Biological control agents (BCAs) are a promising alternative [6]. Specifically, this project will focus on three lines of inquiry: (1) How do differences in acclimation rate to new temperatures of pathogen and BCA metabolism affect Plant-Pathogen-BCA dynamics? For example, what if bacteria acclimate faster to new temperatures than fungal pathogens? (2) What are the optimal temperatures for crop productivity, disease transmission, and BCA control? (3) How do fluctuating environmental temperatures interact with the thermal physiology of the crop, the pathogen and the BCA to determine disease outbreaks dynamics and BCA success in greenhouse vs. (crop-)field settings? More complex problems, such as the effect of interactions between multiple pathogens and/or multiple BCAs could also be addressed. The project will also involve a agricultural research institution (CABI UK) to empirically ground the theoretical framework. References: [1] Dell et al. PNAS 108, p 10591–10596(2011); [2] Dell et al. J. Anim. Ecol. 83, p 70–84(2014); [3] Gilbert, B. et al. Ecol. Lett. 17, 902–914 (2014).[4] Pimentel et al. in Integr. Pest Manag. 3, p 47–71(2014); [5] Aktar et al. Interdiscip. Toxicol. 2, p 1–12(2009); [6] Holmes et al. Eur. Sci. J. p 1857–7881(2016).
Samraat Pawar
Jacob Bishop
Dr. Ben Raymond, University of Exeter (Penryn Campus), b.raymond@exeter.ac.uk; Matt Ryan, CABI m.ryan@cabi.org
Development of mathematical theory, Computing, Quantitative data analysis, Ecological observations / data collection
Samraat Pawar
The development of mathematical models of crop-disease-BCA dynamics, computational simulations of dynamical systems, statistical analyses of massive metabolic rate data to extract model parameterizations.
Metabolic theory of ecology, Population and trophic dynamics, Disease ecology, Evolution versus Plasticity of (thermal) reaction norms
The study of disease outbreak dynamics and biological control in agro-ecological systems has not traditionally incorporated metabolic and ecological theories. The combination of empirical analyses and modelling proposed here to address a major problem in agriculture is novel.
The study of disease outbreak dynamics and biological control in agro-ecological systems has not traditionally incorporated metabolic and ecological theories. The combination of empirical analyses and modelling proposed here will help address a major hurdle in the way of sustainable agriculture under global change.
It will help lay the foundation for a new predictive framework for crop productivity, disease outbreaks, and control of these diseases by biological control agents in agro-ecosystems.
This project will combine elements of crop production and agro-ecological science, physiology, population and trophic dynamics, mathematics, and statistics.
Climate and climate change, Environmental physiology, Ecological/Evolutionary tools, technology & methods
Yes, in-lab training in quantitative methods in ecology, theory/computing, agroecology
Imperial College London, University of Reading
No
2017-10-02 04:16:00