BioInnovation Wales Logo

Potential MRes Research Topics

The BioInnovation programme is largely designed for people working in the agrifood sector and most MRes/Doctoral research topics are born from ideas which students feel may be useful to their work. However, if you are not working in this sector it’s worth having a look at the topics which IBERS can support internally. Please get in touch with us if any of these are of interest to you.

Potential Research Topics within IBERS (loosely grouped):

Livestock and Forages

  • Effects of forages and grassland management on earthworms and/or other invertebrates
  • Sustainable soil management towards net zero grasslands
  • Safeguarding food security through improving forage crops
  • Beef Eating Quality - a new approach to valuing beef in the UK?
  • Grassland ecosystems (happy to discuss ideas you may have in this subject area)
  • Organic and low input agriculture (happy to discuss ideas you may have in this subject area)
  • How do sheep make choices?  Exploring ovine decision making using a cognitive operant system
  • If you can’t stand the heat - The effect of pre-heat on protease activity in ingested forage
  • Investigation of the ‘mystery’ role of polyphenol oxidase in chloroplasts
  • A proteomic exploration of the effect of exposure to stress on formation of phenolic-protein complexes
  • Plant-microbe interactions in the rumen – the search for PAMPS
  • Does resistance to plant pathogens affect rumen fermentation?
  • Compare the gas production characteristics of horses and ruminants to alpaca’s fed on similar diets. All faecal samples will be provided!  
  • Cellular basis of water management: the contribution of mosses to hydrology in the uplands.
  • Multivariate statistical analysis of dairy heifer growth patterns determined by diet protein concentration
  • Comparing the nutrient use efficiency of primitive (Soay) and domesticated sheep.
  • Effect of diet on enteric methane emissions from sheep
  • The comparative feeding behaviour of alpacas and sheep
  • Determing the comparative diet composition of sheep, cattle and ponies via DNA metabarcoding
  • Analysis of gut protozoa burden in Welsh Alpacas’

Biorefining

  • Novel seaweed extract fertiliser and stress protector trials for healthy plants in the future
  • Novel extraction and processing technologies to enhance seaweed fertiliser properties
  • Isolation and purification of high value compounds from seaweeds
  • Impact of seaweed inclusion in ruminant diets 
  • Using pilot-scale steam explosion equipment to release valuable sugars from green seaweed. 
  • Conversion of plant cell wall breakdown products to styrenes for the production of biomaterials
  • Genome modification of a non-conventional oleaginous yeast
  • Maximising lipid accumulation in a non-conventional oleaginous yeast
  • Genome modification of lactic acid bacteria
  • Identification and characterisation of thermophilic, starch degrading, lactic acid producing bacteria
  • Dissecting the promoter and terminator regions of xylose reductase in Candida tropicalis Y4
  • Synthetic biology devices for non-conventional yeast
  • Several related projects looking at multiway analysis by GCMS of pyrolysis data from existing sample sets e.g. forest wood, transgenic maize, or Miscanthus hybrids, to determine if changes in thermal decomposition behaviour can be associated with differences in biological, genetic and stress parameters.
  • Identification of volatile biomarkers of fungal degradation in straw bale walls
  • Purification of cell wall structural polysaccharides to allow chemical mapping of their location by Raman microscopy
  • Stress response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae during brewing or biofuel fermentation
  • Crop modelling e.g. refining the temperature responses of Radiation Use Efficiency (RUE) in new hybrids using GxE trials.
  • Ploidy determination in wild and hybrid Miscanthus
  • Photosynthesis and respiration of Miscanthus x giganteus and new hybrids at low and high temperatures
  • Photosynthesis and respiration of Miscanthus x giganteus and new hybrids at low and high water potentials.
  • Determining whole plant water use efficiency of four novel Miscanthus hybrids
  • Determining short term salinity resilience in four new Miscanthus hybrids  in hydroponics
  • The bioenergy feedstock potential of different types of upland biomass
  • Does climate change impact on plant biomass quality traits?

Conservation

  • Conserving trout biodiversity in Welsh rivers.
  • Conservation genetics of an understudied bee species.
  • The impact of urbanisation on stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) populations.
  • Using genetc analysis of museum samples to inform conservation of endangered insect species.
  • Using eDNA analysis to describe population dynamics in an elusive beetle.
  • Genetic based management of whelk in Welsh waters.
  • Conservation genetics of endangered insect species.
  • Conservation genetics
  • Epidemiology, biodiversity and conservation modelling
  • Vegetation and arthropod responses to restoration management of lowland raised bog (desk study - data analysis)
  • Soil invertebrate and greenhouse gas responses to different heathland restoration methods
  • Cattle foraging in native vegetation mosaics: does herbage quality or variety drive foraging patterns?
  • Effects of land restitution on soil carbon and invertebrate populations (fenceline investigations).
  • Open topics on species conservation biology and ecology
  • Are stored carbohydrates level indicative of decline status in trees?
  • Metabolic status of oak trees as indicators of health and future resilience of woodlands

Genetics and Genomics

  • Investigation of the fate / effect of dsRNA in honey bees after feeding.
  • Investigating the role of the mismatch repair pathway in polyploid meiosis.
  • Drug screening to modulate meiotic recombination: a tool for plant breeding.
  • How do new genes evolve? Exploring the evolutionary fate of duplicated genes.
  • Endosymbiosis and horizontal gene transfer: following the ongoing contribution of organelle DNA to nuclear genomes.
  • Genetics of grain weight in perennial ryegrass breeding
  • Genetics of Free Leaf Lamina length in perennial ryegrass
  • Understanding Genetic Variation for Leaf Extension Growth and Flowering Phenology in oats
  • Genetics of seedling root architecture in oats
  • Reproductive systems in grasses and clovers/self-incompatibility/inbreeding/polyploidy/hybridisation/plant breeding systems
  • Ex-situ plant genetic resources/genebanks
  • Do nutrient levels influence DNA repair during meiosis in Arabidopsis?
  • Development of a chemical screen to identify compounds that boost recombination in Arabidopsis.
  • CRISPR genome editing in grasses: understanding the limiting factors and maximizing the potential
  • Potential of cell permeating peptides in plant systems.
  • Production and purification of dsRNA in bacteria for silencing in varroa mite or viral replication.
  • Novel gene targets for RNAi silencing viral replication and/or for varroa mite control.
  • Molecular genetics and genome organisation of temperate and tropical grasses
  • Assaying genetic variation in forage grasses for response to abiotic stress
  • Assaying genetic variation in forage grasses for enhancing bio-refining opportunities.
  • Prediction of biomass crop yields using mass spectral analysis
  • Small molecule manipulation of chromosome pairing and recombination: developing new tools for breeding
  • Molecular basis of plant responses to fire: can it be exploited as a genetic switch?
  • Is the domestication syndrome compatible with perennially?
  • Identification of the molecular components that control sexual plant reproduction
  • How is Programmed Cell Death triggered upon an incompatible interaction during plant reproduction?
  • In silico modelling of the proteins that determine the self-incompatibility response during plant reproduction.
  • Epigenetic profiling for the diagnosis of disease in sheep
  • Epigenetic profiling for the identification of plant parts (for diet reconstruction)
  • DNA barcoding for pollinator diseases on generalist and specialist flowers
  • DNA barcoding for the identification of mosses
  • Epigenetic profiling of the host to provide molecular markers of parasite development and abundance
  • Uncovering gene regulatory networks linked to drought tolerance in Lolium.
  • Detecting epigenetic changes associated with genome introgression in perennial ryegrass using bisulphite sequencing
  • Characterising domestication genes in oats
  • Identifying novel genetic variation in oat landraces and wild relatives

Bioinformatics, modelling and GIS

  • Epidemiology, biodiversity and conservation modelling
  • Miscanthus crop modelling using machine learning approach
  • GIS projects e.g. measuring habitat fragmentation or connectivity
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (computer programming e.g. modelling, simulation or data analysis)
  • Bioinformatics analysis of high-density SNP data
  • Bioinformatic analysis of functionality of the mitochondrial pseudo control region in birds

Orchards

  • Survey of traditional orchards and identification and genetic conservation of unique germplasm using historic land use mapping resources and DNA molecular markers
  • Orchard ecology projects (above and below ground) (can include soil microbial metagenomic sequencing study)
  • Population genetics of local Malus sylvestris apple populations
  • DNA profiling the UK Ornamental Malus spp. collection from Barnard’s Farm, Essex

Livestock Health and Welfare

  • Understanding livestock behaviour to reduce parasite infections
  • Survey and systematic review of compensatory mechanisms for animal disease outbreaks
  • Parallel testing for bovine brucellosis: retrospective data analyis using logistic regression
  • Survey of  avian haemoparasites in selected passerine species
  • Field trial of tool to evaluate animal disease control programmes
  • Cytobrush samples for post-natal checks in cattle. Note:students will need own transport to meet the vet on farm
  • Developing novel diagnostic methods (LAMP / multiplex PCR)  for faecal protozoan parasites: Cryptosporidium, Eimeria, Giardia,  Toxoplasma (collaboration with APHA and WVSC)
  • Molecular diagnosis of enteric parasites in faecal samples: Cryptosporidium, Eimeria, Giardia, Toxoplamsa  (collaboration with APHA and WVSC)
  • Single cell genomics of  Eimeria species that cause Coccidiosis in ruminants   (collaboration with APHA and WVSC)
  • Vaccine targets and antibody responses to enteric protozoan parasites: Cryptosporidium, Eimeria, Giardia, Toxoplasma
  • Open project: for students interested in Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) detection, Campylobacter detection, CRISPR diagnostics, Fatberg AMR / lipases / pathogen profiles
  • Can chemical changes in blood plasma be a more accurate method of detect bovine tuberculosis?
  • Accelerometers and GPS for identifying urination and defecation events in pasture-based dairy cattle
  • Inter and intra-cow variation in accelerometer values for behaviour classification
  • Precision technologies for automatic identification of equine behaviour
  • Analysis of automatic milk feeding system data for dairy calf disease diagnosis
  • Analysis of factors associated with rumen fluke emergence in the UK. A desk based study of vet surveillance data. This project may lead to a collaborative research paper with the APHA.
  • Mapping liver fluke infection risk via environmental DNA analysis to guide sustainable fluke control on six local farms. This project may lead to a collaborative research paper with the ADAS/Farming Connect.
  • Optimisation of pen side parasite DNA extraction and amplification techniques from faecal samples of cattle/sheep.
  • Resistant roundworm species composition in cattle/sheep post anthelmintic treatment.
  • Understanding helminth extracellular vesicles
  • Calf nutrition, performance and health (further details on request - industry linked project)
  • Understanding the effects of negative energy balance on the bovine uterus.

​​​​​​​Microbiology

  • Stress response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae during brewing or biofuel fermentation
  • Molecular Diagnosis for Honey Bee Pathogens
  • Novel targets for control of Honey Bee parasites: the varroa mite microbiome
  • Using phage products to detect / kill bacteria
  • Genomic analysis of endophytic bacteria
  • Exploiting the plant microbiome for heavy metal stress mitigation in plants
  • Exploiting bacterial endophytes for plant growth promotion and abiotic stress resilience
  • Anti-microbial action in bacterial endophytes
  • Exploiting the plant microbiome for abiotic stress mitigation in plants
  • Isolation and characterisation of novel bacterial predators
  • Using bacterial predators as protective agents against bacterial infection
  • The genetic basis of the antimicrobial activity of bacterial predators
  • Comparative genomics of bacterial predation – GWAS, pangenomics and/or evolutionary analysis
  • Visualisation of bacterial predation and vesicle/cell fusion.
  • Cooperativity and other social interactions during bacterial predation.
  • Fungal Taxonomy and DNA barcoding
  • Effect of air pollution on the hair lichen Usnea florida
  • DNA barcoding of rust fungi
  • Genomics of anaerobic fungi
  • The ecology of waxcaps and other grassland fungi
  • Niche partitioning and anaerobic fungi
  • Develop a better method for detecting resistance/susceptibility to the fungal disease leaf spot for IBERS ryegrass breeding programme

Marine and Fresh Water

  • Determining the impact of pollutants on aquatic invertebrates
  • Individual differences in cognition ( fish or invertebrates)
  • Population genetic connectivity and evolution of commercially important shellfish in the Irish Sea
  • Geographic distribution of the emerging cockle parasite Marteilia cocosarum: is it restricted to Wales?
  • Genetic diversity of aquatic invasive species
  • Testing mussels for accumulation of food-borne pathogens: bacteria, parasites, viruses.
  • Parasites of aquatic invasive species
  • Genetic diversity of marine organisms on artificial structures
  • Genetic diversity and hybridisation of invasive mitten crabs in the Dee Estuary.
  • DNA barcoding of marine non-native species.
  • Cannibalism in the invasive 'killer shrimp' Dikerogammarus villosus.
  • Migratory behaviour of invasive mitten crabs
  • Crustacean moulting: the neuronal and endocrine control of ecdysis in crabs
  • Circadian and circatidal rhythms in intertidal animals
  • Towards developing genome editing in non-model crustaceans

Vertical Farming

  • Vertical farming and hydroponics for improved and new crop production
  • Pop-up hydroponics

​​​​​​​Diet and Human Health

  • Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function in people with Parkinson’s
  • Bone Health/density and body composition.
  • Hayfever and pollen viability
  • Recombinant plant enzymes for the production of novel pre-biotics in vitro
  • Development of novel tankyrase inhibitors from plants for cancer therapy.
  • High value chemicals from plants for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Novel drugs from tropical plants.
  • Developing assays to assess eco-friendly BioStimulants
  • Urine chemistry and metabolic networks in humans
  • Urine biomarkers as diagnostic of eating behavior and differential metabolism of food chemistry
  • Investigating better ways to diagnose prostate cancer
  • Dietary exposure and nutritional ‘metabotypes’ in the UK population
  • The effect of fatigue on balance and gait in older adults.
  • Frailty, sarcopenia, muscle strength and functional performance in older adults.
  • Metabolomics of frailty and malnutrition in older adults
  • Movement analysis of humans / animals
  • Biology of (human) ageing and monitoring health status
  • Control of emerging and re-emerging food borne parasite disease
  • Exploring genetic variations of starch traits in grain crops that help control diabetes in humans
  • Peripheral v central responses to physical activity in glucose control
  • Blood glucose response to high intensity intermittent exercise (HIIT) in humans with varying degrees of glucose control
  • Peer mentoring to support behaviour change in pre-diabetes
  • Protein biochemistry to tackle food borne parasitic worms

Building

  • Using plants to improve the function of plasters and internal wall insulation in UK housebuilding

Social Sciences

  • The contribution of women to the sustainability of farming in Wales

Animal Behaviour

  • Testing Pace of Life Syndrome - linking behaviour and physiology
  • Early life experience - how does developmental experience shape behaviour
  • General animal behaviour - happy to discuss

Alternative Protein Sources

  • Defining a suitable cell source for cultured meat (in vitro meat production)