Sustainable agriculture

Our mission is to play a leading role in mitigating the global food security crisis through the conservation of agriculturally significant species and use of a diverse range of modern molecular genetics and genomics approaches.

Central to the theme of the Agriculture and Food Systems Challenges (AFSC) is a need to maintain and improve the yield of crops.

The world’s plant genetic resources hold great value for world food security, but they are under considerable threat. Biodiversity is at risk from multiple threats including climate change. Crop improvement depends on the genetic diversity existing in our plant genetic resources, which are currently inadequately conserved and used. The genetic diversity contained within plants, particularly of species that are wild relatives of our crops, is essential to our ability to respond to the new stresses in the agricultural environment inherent with climate change. We consider how they may be conserved, and what new technologies can be implemented to enhance their use.

Projects available under this theme

Find out more about the project and apply directly to the scholarships via the listings below. You can also follow our guidance on how to apply to the Global Challenges PhD Scholarships.

Developing a mobile phone-based test for potato disease monitoring in the developing world

Dafforn and Tucker 

Over the past 8 years we have developed a new method for biodetection that substantially simplifies the equipment required to make quantitative measurements of target analytes. The method uses the combination of novel reagent and a simple optical detection system. The reagent is based on a protein nanofibre dereviatised with disease recognition elements (e.g. antibodies, aptamers, DNA).

The detection system uses simple handheld solid state optical system to detect changes in the absorbance of polarised light to produce a linear dichroism signal (LD) (see for an explanation).

Together these elements provide an assay that is fast, robust and reliable, making it ideally suited to agricultural testing.

This studentship will add to this work, delivering a fully functioning system for testing in the field. In agreement with external collaborators the project aims to develop two elements:

1) A combined assay for pectolytic bacteria and viral potato disease;

2) A mobile-phone based device for reading the assay.

Explore the projects