Evaluation of the risks to Tilia health through monitoring, detection and microbiome analysis


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Science, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by UWE Bristol and the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Ref: 2223-JAN-HAS17

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023
The closing date for applications is 24 October 2022

Studentship details

This is an exciting opportunity for a fully-funded PhD student to join an inter-disciplinary team working on tree health in the UK. The aims of this project will be to determine current and future threats to Tilia (commonly known as lime or linden), develop an effective detection protocol for symptomatic Tilia and to determine the pathogenicity and incidence of Brenneria and Phytophthora species on Tilia. Given the pathogenic potential of members of the genus Brenneria, and the devastating environmental effects caused by Phytophthora species, either or both of these microorganisms may constitute a new threat to an already deteriorating Tilia population in Great Britain.

The main objectives of the project are to:

  1. perform horizon scanning on diseases and pests of Tilia in the UK and Europe for communication to a wider audience
  2. enhance a current rapid diagnostic method to detect novel Brenneria species from Tilia
  3. identify and map the presence of symptomatic and asymptomatic Tilia, both visually and using UAV multi-spectral imagery, to create a phenotype for crown health
  4. identify the microorganisms (culturable and non-culturable) from symptomatic Tilia and compare with those from non-symptomatic Tilia
  5. determine the pathogenicity of the novel Brenneria species on different Tilia species and hybrids, subjected to predicted climate change indicators, through inoculation trials and comparative genomics.

The successful applicant will be based in the new Lab Zone at UWE Bristol, learning cutting-edge molecular techniques, bioinformatics and bacterial taxonomy. The three-year project is a collaboration between UWE Bristol, Westonbirt Arboretum and the charity Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum. The student will join in several trips to affected woodlands to gain field experience, working closely with experts from Forest Research, our existing collaborators.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Carrie Brady 



Applicants must have a good honours BSc degree (2.1 or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline such as genetics, molecular biology, environmental sciences or forestry, and ideally will have a Masters qualification from a UK university.

Experience in forestry fieldwork, culturing bacteria, molecular techniques, plant-microbe interaction or bioinformatics would be desirable.

A recognised English language qualification is required. Applicants whose first language is not English require a recognised English language qualification. The minimum entry requirement is GCSE English at grade C or above or IELTS score 7.0 or TOEFL score 600 (or demonstrable equivalent).



The studentship is available from 1 January 2023 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £16,062 per annum. 
In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. 

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS17.

You will need to upload your degree certificates and transcripts and a recognised English language qualification is required. Applicants should provide a cover letter expressing their interest.


You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 24 October 2022.

Further Information

Preliminary Interviews will take place in the week commencing 14 November 2022.  

If you have not heard from us by 7 November 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful. 


You may also be interested in