Vacancies / Scholarships

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Scholarship

TITLE: INVESTIGATING A MOLECULAR COMMUNICATION TOOL TO DEVELOP A SUSTAINABLE PLANT HEALTH AGENT

Abstract: Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) are well established as biological insecticides. They can be applied against insect pests of economic significance as part of integrated pest management
systems. In this way they provide environment friendly pest control alternatives away from conventional chemical insecticides and the problems resulting from their usage, such as human and environmental toxicity. Endophytic bacteria are organisms that normally live inside plants, and/or in close proximity and association with plant roots in the soil. Once they colonise the plant, they cause
plant growth promotion reducing the needfor application of environmentally harmful conventional mineral fertilisers for good crop yields. In addition, they enhance plant immunity against plant
pathogens. Previous work in enviroCORE at IT Carlow revealed that both of these groups of organisms interact well, so there is good potential for research to explore this interaction further, with the scope to develop a combined biological product which will be, on the one hand, acting as a biological insecticide and, on the other, as a plant growth and immunity promotion agent. The proposed project will therefore build on previous such findings from IT Carlow and utilise expertise from Waterford IT, in the form of molecular communication analysis, aiming to better elucidate and understand the association between these groups of organisms. The aim of molecular communications is to characterise, as well as develop, communication systems from biological components such those that will be employed in this project. Molecular communications is an emerging field that aims to characterise and develop communication systems based on artificial or natural biological organisms.
Track record in this area has been achieved via previous investigations, in the WIT Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG), on molecular communications using engineered bacteria.

The proposed project will be therefore an interdisciplinary research, combining wet lab experiments with theoretical communications models. Project findings will have a direct impact towards the development of an innovative plant health bioagent for sustainable food security. In addition, project findings will establish novel systems to improve the development and utilisation of natural resources.

Contact Dr. Thomae Kakouli-Duarte: thomae.kakouli@itcarlow.ie

Application details can be found on this page: https://www.itcarlow.ie/research/research-vacancies/south-east-regional-development-scholarship-fund.htm

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