Project supervisors: Dr. Jose Gutierrez-Marcos - SLS/UWA
Non-Academic partner: Dr. Alessandra Di Cola - TARRC/MRB
Project title: The impact of grafting in commercial rubber tree production
Rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) are of major economic importance as they are the primary source of natural rubber in the world. The rubber trees found in commercial plantations are all vegetatively propagated from selected high-yielding clones by bud grafting rootstocks to scions. Because most of the high-yielding grafting clones originated from a few trees collected in the Amazonian rainforest, the genetic diversity of commercial rubber trees is extremely low, thus many are highly susceptible to pathogen attack and declining productivity. Phenotypic variation can however be created when different rootstock-scion stocks are combined, the basis of which remains unknown.
The main aim of this iCASE project is to identify the molecular and metabolic changes occurring during rubber tree bud grafting and to assess their impact on natural rubber production. To this end, the student will undertake an interdisciplinary project in collaboration with experts at the University of Warwick and Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre/ Malaysian Rubber Board. It is expected that results obtained from this project on how rootstock-scion interactions are able to influence genetic and epigenetic responses in creating rubber tree phenotypic variation will be of crucial importance for future natural rubber production.
Closing date for applications: 31st March 2016
iCASE students must fulfil the MIBTP entry requirements and will join the MIBTP cohort for the taught modules and masterclasses during the first term. iCASE students can then start their PhD project in Jan 2017 but must complete a 3-month miniproject (at a non-home institution) before the end of their first year. They will remain as an integral part of the MIBTP cohort and take part in the core networking activities and transferable skills training. MIBTP iCase.