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Name of scholarship/program

Acquisition of natural soil phosphorus compounds by crops: towards sustainable, low fertilizer crop production

Important description
Food security is one of the greatest challenges facing the world’s increasing population. However, crop yields are reliant on fertilisers, including phosphorus (P), but the global source of phosphorus in fertilisers may be exhausted within the next 50-100 years. Developing crop production with little or no dependency on P fertilisers is an urgent need.
Natural soil P may provide part of the solution. While phosphate (PO4-) is the P form plants take, up it accounts for as little as 1% of soil P while 30-90% can be in organic forms. If crops utilised organic P forms more readily (cleaving the PO4- from the larger organic compounds), then this would significantly increase the size of the P stock in soil available for plant growth. Plants may acquire P from these different organic compounds depending on their root functioning (e.g. excretion of enzymes, organic acids) or mycorrhizal symbioses (root fungal partners).
This PhD will investigate the capacities of crop varieties to transform and acquire P from organic molecules in soils. Work will include study of the root traits, physiological and mycorrhizal symbiosis that drive uptake, and relate these to utilisation of organic P. It will also include quantification of sources and changes in soil organic P through nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).
This PhD would suit a highly motivated and independently thinking individual with a background in/enthusiasm for plant science, plant nutrient capture, biochemical analysis and food production, and with a keenness to undertake both greenhouse studies and laboratory analytical work.

For informal enquiries, please contact Gareth Phoenix (http://www.FindAPhD.com/search/EmailEnquiry.aspx?fapjid=41578&LID=1381&EA=g.phoenix@sheffield.ac.uk"">g.phoenix@sheffield.ac.uk )

Eligibility and other criteria
This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Application deadline
*22 April 2013

Additional information, and important URL

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