Understanding the impact of the ash dieback invasion of Europe


The UK is expected to lose the majority of its third most common tree species, ash (Fraxinus excelsior), to the ash dieback fungus (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) and this fungal invasion is estimated to cost Britain £15 billion.

Understanding the interaction between hosts and pathogens is fundamental to the prosperity of our agricultural and wild environments, particularly because climate change is likely to allow pathogens to colonise new regions. The ash dieback system is one in which we can study fungal invasion and co-evolution in a polymorphic host and pathogen and one in which the public are heavily invested.

In this PhD project, you will employ state-of-the-art genome sequencing and analysis technologies to understand pathogen invasion and host resistance in the ash dieback system. The project will involve collecting samples from across the UK as well as sequencing and analysing pathogen data from East Asia.

The project will be jointly supervised by Mark McMullan and Neil Hall at the Earlham Institute and James Brown at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park, and conducted in close collaboration with researchers from Denmark, China and Japan. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Mark McMullan (Mark.McMullan@earlham.ac.uk).