Graduate Positions: Louisiana State University Fungal Pathogen Evolution

Published by Cori VanGalder on

Graduate Positions: Louisiana State University Fungal Pathogen Evolution

Two graduate assistantships (one PhD and one MS) are available to work on epidemiology, population genetics, and fungicide resistance of Cercospora leaf blight (CLB) of soybean. The research projects are collaborative efforts across the labs of Drs. Jonathan Richards, Vinson Doyle, and Sara Thomas-Sharma, and will involve a network of soybean researchers across the mid-South.

The PhD student will work on population biology/genomics of Cercospora associated with CLB. This project aims to understand population dynamics and genomic signatures of host adaptation and fungicide resistance evolution of CLB pathogens across the mid-southern United States. This project would include both field and lab work. Field work will include sampling from agricultural and non-agricultural habitats and experimental field plots. Lab/computational work will include reference genome development (nanopore, Pacbio sequencing), RNAseq, differential gene expression analysis, demographic analysis, etc. The student will also leverage population genomic data to design assays for rapid screening of fungicide resistance (for QoI, DMI, and SDHI fungicide chemistries) and identify additional SNPs that might be associated with fungicide resistance. Student skills gained at the end of project period will thus include systematic sampling, working with big data, assay development, among others.

The MS student will work on identifying spore peaks of Cercospora spp. from spore trap data across the mid-South. The student will use available quantitative PCR detection methods to quantify spore peaks and identify environmental variables associated with spore peaks. Student will also have the opportunity to assist with coordination of multi-state spore-trapping efforts and field experiments to target spore peaks. Student will thus gain skills in setting up field experiments, application of detection tools, data analysis, etc.

Both students will be expected to participate in scientific meetings, publish findings in peer-reviewed journals, and apply for independent funding opportunities.

Please send a letter of interest (maximum one page) to the following addresses describing why you are interested in a graduate program and your experiences that may be relevant to these projects.

Sara Thomas-Sharma:

Jonathan Richards:

Vinson P. Doyle: