Exjobbsförslag från företag

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Förslaget inkom 2007-05-22

Alternaria species and other moulds infecting Swedish grain at harvest

This project aims to characterise the moulds typically associated with Swedish grain at harvest, grown for both food and feed. There is currently little information on the normal occurrence of these moulds, in terms of both species diversity and incidence of infection (what proportion of grains are infected). We will focus on those moulds that might produce mycotoxins in the grain before harvest, in particular, Alternaria species. Barley is our model crop, because it is one of the main crops grown in both southern and northern Sweden.

Last Autumn in southern Sweden, heavy rains caused whole fields of grain to turn black due to infection with the mould, Alternaria. This mould is commonly found on grains and also occasionally causes soft rots of fruit and vegetables. Certain species of Alternaria are known to produce toxic compounds that may be detrimental to animal health, if animals are fed grain contaminated with high levels of these compounds.

The Alternaria ’scare’ in southern Sweden demonstrated that unusual changes in the weather could lead to new mycotoxin problems in Swedish grain. Currently, there is no comprehensive catalogue of the fungi typically infecting grain, nor information on what could be considered ’normal’ levels of fungi. The project will address this important ’gap in knowledge’, and provide useful baseline data for farmers, food and feed scientists, veterinarians and government agencies responsible for monitoring grain quality.

• General mycology, including preparation of fungal culture media
• Plating out seeds of surface-disinfected grain
• Development of expertise in culture and identification of a wide range of fungi commonly associated with food and feed.
• DNA extraction and sequencing to confirm Alternaria identification

• Per Häggblom, SVA
• Birgitte Anderssen, DTU, Denmark

We are looking for an energetic student who will enjoy the challenge of generating and collating data from many grain samples, and who can interpret his/her findings for various audiences (farmers, scientists, government agencies). You should also like looking down a microscope and be interested in learning fungal taxonomy. Previous experience in molecular biology would be an advantage.

This project is supervised by Su-lin Leong, a postdoctoral fellow from Australia. Project discussions will be conducted in English.

For information on the Department of Microbiology, SLU, visit our web-site: http://www.mikrob.slu.se


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