Reproductive interference for insect control


The student will train at the interface of fundamental reproductive biology, bioinformatics and genetic engineering, to develop proof-of-principle for the use of reproductive interference as complementary new method for insect control.

Insect pests are a persistent and growing threat to human livelihoods and health because they damage economically important crops and spread disease. The pressing global challenge of combating such pests is being exacerbated by the evolution of resistance, the diminishing availability of pesticides and by climate change. The student will focus on reproductive interference – whereby courtship and copulation of one species / population is interrupted or disturbed by another. In the context of insect control this is often referred to as ‘satyrization’ and it works because the consequences (particularly costs) of hybrid mating can lead to the competitive exclusion of a harmful species (or population) by a more benign one.

The project is a collaboration with the Earlham and Pirbright Institutes, world-leading research centres for bioinformatics and the development of genetic technologies, respectively. The student will develop key elements of a test case for insect control via satyrization in the fruitfly model. In this they will identify the loci and regulatory mechanisms contributing to satyrization as well as the underpinning signals and receivers deployed by males and females in this context.

The student will gain cutting-edge research skills in bioinformatics, molecular genetics and reproductive biology. They will train at the UEA, Pirbright and Earlham Institutes, and will gain key insights into the development and application of fundamental knowledge in the applied sector. They will receive excellent training and career development from the thriving Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership.