Adhesion of plant pathogen spores to leaves and other surfaces

Fungal spores adhere rapidly to leaf surfaces. The project will examine this process and how it affects spore movement in lab and field.

Department: Agri-Environment

Supervised by: Michael Shaw

The Placement Project

• Objective/hypothesis: Many plant diseases are caused by fungi. Many of these are transmitted between hosts as spores, which are initially freely dispersed, but germinate within a few hours. Once germinated, they are firmly stuck to the host, but before this they may be in danger of being washed off. In some species, such as rice blast, this is known to be through specialised “glue” released at appropriate cues. In studying pathogens, inappropriate “glue” release can be a serious problem. • Methodology The project will use one or more easily culturable fungi and apply spores to different surfaces, including host and non-host leaves, glass, polythene, polystyrene etc , and examine how easily they can be washed off at different times after application. Light microscopy will be used to try to visualise any secretions from the spores and keep track of germination. Previous work on variation of infection efficiency of spores will be verified. This is related to on-going work by PhD students on disease management (especially of Zymoseptoria tritici) but is a free-standing project.


- Culturing of pure isolates of plant pathogenic fungi - Experiments on adhesion of fungi to a range of substrates, including leaves - Experiments on infection efficiency of spores on leaves - Light microscopy of the interaction of spores with leaves

Skills, knowledge and experience required

- Laboratory experience: keeping a lab notebook; manual dexterity; practical approach; routine volume measurement, calculations and chemical manipulation as required in a biological laboratory; - Experience with experimental manipulation of some kind of micro-organism - Experience of light microscopy

Skills which will be developed during the placement

- Aseptic technique for working with pure cultures of micro-organisms, which are to some extent generic - cultural details and biological understanding of one or more fungi important because they cause disease on major arable crops. - Methods for infecting plants with pure fungal cultures - Experimental design - Staining and measurement techniques for transmitted light and epifluorescence microscopy- Project and experiment planning - Experimental design and data analysis - Understanding of plant pathology

Place of Work

Agriculture building and Harborne Experimental grounds

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 15 June 2015 - Friday 24 July 2015

How to Apply

Submit cv. and academic profile to Professor Shaw by 20th March, followed by interview with PI and a research colleague.

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