Mechanisms & spread of fungicide resistance

Mechanisms and spread of fungicide resistance in pyrethrum fungal pathogens

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

22 November 2021

Campus

Cradle Coast

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

Scholarship

$28,597pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Pyrethrum is an important part of cropping production in Tasmania, being grown for the natural insecticides pyrethrins.  Diseases of pyrethrum are a major constraint on production in Tasmania caused by a complex of fungal pathogens.  The major diseases affecting pyrethrum include ray blight, caused by Stagonosporopsis tanaceti, and tan spot, caused by Didymella tanaceti. Management of these diseases requires the use of multiple applications of chemical fungicides each year. However, this exposes the industry to the risk of resistance building up within the pathogen population, reducing the efficacy of control leading to undesirable impacts on the economics and environmental sustainability of pyrethrum production.

This project will focus on understanding the risk of fungicide resistance in key fungal pathogens of pyrethrum.  Previous work has demonstrated the development of resistance to succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor fungicides (SDHI) within D. tanaceti. However, questions remain around the potential for resistance to other fungicidal chemicals that the industry currently relies upon, such as cyprodinil, azoxystrobin and fludioxinil. Furthermore, the potential for fungicide resistance development in S. tanaceti also requires further investigation.  Potential studies include assessing the current extent of resistance present in field populations, looking into the genetic mechanisms that govern resistance, and evaluating the risk of resistance developing in the future. Answering questions associated with these issues will help the pyrethrum industry better manage fungicide usage for fungal disease control into the future.

This project is to support a PhD candidate to be based within TIA in NW Tasmania.  In conducting this project, the candidate will be supported by, and collaborate with, Botanical Resources Australia, the commercial operator of the Australian pyrethrum industry.  The project will involve a combination of field-, glasshouse- and laboratory-based experimentation.

Aims:

  1. Expand the knowledge base on the current status of fungicide resistance in pyrethrum foliar pathogens
  2. Screen current field populations of foliar pathogens for response to current/potential chemistries used in pyrethrum production, with an emphasis on compounds that are currently and/or proposed for use in commercial pyrethrum cropping.
  3. Determine the genetic mutations in foliar pathogens responsible for fungicide resistance

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Tamieka Pearce

Funding

The scholarship supporting this project provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years;
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000;
  • a tuition fee scholarship for up to 4 years (successful domestic applicants will be awarded an RTP Fees Offset and successful international applicants will be awarded a University of Tasmania Fees Offset)

The scholarship supporting this project is funded by the University of Tasmania and the Australian Government through the Research Training Program.

Eligibility

The project is open to domestic (Australia and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from International applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the PhD minimum entry requirements.

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Plant Pathology/Mycology
  • Agricultural systems
  • Molecular Biology

Selection Criteria

The project/scholarship is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional selection criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Experience with handling fungal cultures
  • Experience with molecular biology techniques
  • Experience with growing plants under greenhouse conditions
  • Ability to undertake field work

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact Dr Jason Scott, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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