Turning up the heat on pest insect reproduction: optimising thermal control in dry food storage facilities


Stored product insect pests seriously damage global food production, especially in developing countries. Chemical methods to control these pests are either becoming regulated due to health concerns or environmental damage, or have become less effective as resistance evolves. New methods of pest management are therefore urgently sought. Thermal control is being increasingly used, when 60oC temperatures are applied to kill insects in contained facilities. However, this can be energetically expensive and cause collateral damage.

In this PhD, you will examine how less extreme temperatures can be used to control key pests through thermal sensitivities within reproduction, enabling more economically effective management. Using lab experiments, you will study how different thermal regimes with different insect populations influence reproduction, recovery, survival and potential to infest in some key stored product pests, scaling findings up to larger storage facilities. You will be trained to sample, culture and manage different insects, and conduct and analyse results of rigorously-controlled experiments revealing how increased temperatures influence pest reproduction and population viability. You will master techniques in phenotyping, microdissection and bioimaging. The PhD is an opportunity to answer relevant scientific questions about a key food security issue.

You will join a welcoming and activegroup generating world-class science (https://matthewgagelab.com), and an energetic NRP DTP cohort, enabling you to develop into an independent-thinking, international-impact scientist in a key area for food security. You should have a good degree in the life sciences, relevant research experience, and be keen to advance scientific understanding of insect pest control. Contact supervisor Matthew Gage for details: m.gage@uea.ac.uk.