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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

Divers - PhD positions and internships

PhD Position 2022 - Ecophysiological modeling of plant-nematode interactions. Understanding the origins and consequences of differential plant susceptibility

Root-knot nematodes (RKN) of the genus Meloidogyne spp. cause considerable yield losses in numerous crops worldwide. Their name comes from the galls (root knots) they induce on the roots of their host during the establishment of their feeding site that enables nematodes to divert plant resources. Plant reaction to parasitism by RKN strongly depends on the plant species and cultivar. Typical symptoms include stunted growth, wilting and deformation of the roots, but strong differences in the extent of damages are observed both within- and between-species. Understanding the origin of these phenotypic differences is a key challenge to design, improve and assess pest control strategies, including the selection of new tolerant cultivars. To study plant–pest  interactions, most mathematical models in the literature either focus on the plant physiology and do not consider the pest dynamics, or conversely are based on the pest life cycle but neglect plant physiology and defence response. In this interdisciplinary PhD project, we propose to bridge this gap by developing an integrated model of the plant-nematode pathosystem. The objectives are to: (i) develop and  calibrate a dynamical model describing plant-nematode interactions; (ii) identify key physiological and architectural traits that impact infestation dynamics; (iii) study long term epidemiological consequences of plant tolerance.

More details:


Background in applied mathematics or in biology with strong mathematical modelling skills

Required skills:

  • dynamical systems (ODE)
  • marked interest in biological applications
  • experience in programming (Python or/and R)

Recommended skills:

  • experience in parameter estimation or/and optimisation
  • proficiency in written and spoken English


Send CV, cover letter and references (referee contact details or reference letters) to:
Valentina Baldazzi:
Suzanne Touzeau: