A genomic approach to understand insecticide toxicokinetics in a global crop pest

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Biosciences


Background and project aim: Aphids are among the world's most damaging group of insect pests causing tens of millions to billions US$ of yield loss per annum across a wide range of crops. The evolution of aphid resistance to the insecticides used for control currently represents a serious threat to their sustainable control. There is thus an urgent need to understand the key processes that influence how insecticides enter, move about, are modified, and leave the aphid body - and understand how these are modified in resistant clones. The aim of this studentship is to address this knowledge gap by leveraging new tools and resources to characterise the key genes of aphids and/or their internal microbes that affect the uptake and translocation of insecticides in insecticide susceptible and resistant aphids

Experimental approaches: The project will leverage extensive biological and genomic resources we have developed for the peach potato aphid, Myzus persicae, an economically important pest aphid species worldwide. These include a living library of over 100 clones collected from almost every continent in the world. The student will use a variety of approaches to explore the uptake and translocation of specific insecticides in a selection of the M. persicae clones held in the host lab, including insect bioassays, high performance mass-spec analysis, and bioinformatics analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data already available to us. Candidate genes associated with altered insecticide uptake will be functionally characterised using cutting-edge transgenic approaches. Finally the influence of the microbiota on insecticide uptake will be explored using a combination of metagenomic analysis, antibiotic treatments and culture-based approaches.

Impact: The project will provide fundamental insights into the key genes involved in insecticide uptake, and the quantitative or qualitative alterations in these genes that lead to resistance. Furthermore the knowledge and tools developed during the project will facilitate the future development of novel methods of controlling a global crop pest.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T008741/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2028
2407783 Studentship BB/T008741/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 James Alexander Gardner