PhD  Opportunity:  University  of  St  Andrews  and  The  James  Hutton  Institute,  UK.   Designing  a  Diagnostic  Tool  for  the  Detection  of  Viral  Diseases  in  Agricultural  Crops     Background:   All   types   of   agricultural   crops   are   susceptible   to   virus   infection,   and   they   contribute   to   large   economic   losses   for   farmers   and   food   producers.   Current   detection   procedures  are  slow  and  expensive.  Methods  for  simultaneous  detection  of  multiple  viruses   are   currently   being   developed,   and   next   generation   sequencing   (NGS)   has   potential   applications   in   this   field   [1].   Recently,   viral   disease   diagnosis,   resulting   in   actionable   clinical   management,  has  been  achieved  using  NGS  of  human  samples  [2].  However,  such  work  has   never   been   applied   to   the   diagnosis   of   viral   diseases   in   crops,   which   is   important   for   plant   quarantine  and  stock  certification  practices,  and  in  the  wider  context  of  global  food  security.       Research  question:  Can  RNA-­‐extraction/amplification  protocols,  sequencing  and  accelerated   bioinformatics  pipelines  provide  viral  indexing  for  diagnostic  purposes  in  crops?       Project  Outline:     1. Investigation  of  RNA  extraction  and  amplification  protocols:  We  will  undertake  a  number   of   pilot   RNA-­‐sequencing   experiments   to   explore   the   effect   of   sampling   from   different   plant  tissues,  and  using  different  extraction  and  enrichment  protocols.  For  each  extraction   protocol   we   will   assess   the   quality   of   the   RNA   extracted.   Samples   from   the   ‘best’   RNA   extraction  and  amplification  protocols  will  be  taken  forward  for  RNA-­‐sequencing.   2. Design   and   implementation   of   a   bioinformatics   pipeline:   We   will   use   NGS   data   from   a   variety  of  crops  to  develop  a  new  plant  virus  diagnostics  pipeline.  This  will  include  the  use   of  a  k-­‐mer  frequency  method  for  rapid  virus  sequence  identification  [3].  The  pipeline  will   be  developed  using  the  Galaxy  workflow  platform  [4].     3. Real  time  application  of  complete  pipeline:  With  the  optimized  RNA  collection,  extraction   and  amplification  protocol  and  bioinformatics  pipeline  in  place,  we  will  apply  it  to  the  viral   diagnosis   of   crop   plants   (including   high   value   perennials   such   blueberry   and   raspberry,   and  annuals  such  as  potato),  to  test  its  efficacy  for  real  time  viral  diagnosis.   The   Supervisors:   This   project   is   supervised   by   Dr   Sue   Jones   &   Dr   Stuart   MacFarlane   (The   James  Hutton  Institute),  and  Professor  Lesley  Torrance  (University  of  St  Andrews).     The   Student:  This  project  would  suit  a  student  from  either  a  biological  or  computer  science   background,  as  the  proportion  of  computing  vs  biology  can  be  adapted  to  suit  the  applicant.     Career   opportunities:    Bioinformatics   has   one   of   the   greatest   skills   shortages   within   the   sciences,   with   specific   skills   gaps   in   genomics   and   computing.    This   PhD   is   an   excellent   opportunity  to  gain  the  interdisciplinary  skills  for  a  career  in  genomics  and  bioinformatics.       For  more  information  please  contact  

[email protected]    

  Funded  studentship  starting  Oct  2016   Further  details  on  FindAPhD   http://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=67780&LID=1374  

  References:  [1]  Boonham  et  al.,  2014.  Virus.  Res.  186:20.    [2]  Wilson  et  al.,  2014..  New  England.  J.  Med.   370:2408,    [3]  Trifonov  &  Rabadan,  2010.  mBio.  1:1-­‐8.  [4]  Goecks  et  al.,  2010.  Genome  Biol.  11:R86.  

 

PhD Opportunity: University of St Andrews and The ... -

PhD Opportunity: University of St Andrews and The James Hutton Institute, UK. Designing a Diagnostic Tool for the Detection of Viral Diseases in Agricultural ...

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