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The impact of ozone and climate change on floral VOC signalling in beans, with a focus on subsistence agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

Bean yields are significantly affected by pollinator visitation, a visitation which can be heavily influenced by the release of floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ozone pollution and climate change, in isolation or through their interaction, could disrupt these vital pollinator cues. Until recently though, it has not been possible to assess the combined impacts of climate change and ozone on floral VOC signal strength and composition, and subsequent effects on yield. This knowledge gap is particularly concerning in subsistence areas reliant on beans, such as Sub-Saharan Africa.

Using state-of-the art experimental facilities and atmospheric gas sampling, you will quantify the change in signal strength and composition of floral VOC emissions in response to ozone pollution and climate change (warming and drought). You will then use a simple chemistry box model to simulate the loss of signal around plants due to changes in VOC emissions and subsequent photochemistry. Finally, results on modelled signal loss will be combined with existing data on air pollutant concentrations, and bean production distribution, to identify the potential locations of largest risk of additional yield losses in Sub-Saharan Africa due to reductions in pollination by insects. You will work in dynamic teams in both Bangor and Lancaster, and collaborate with European, African and American researchers, gaining inter-disciplinary skills in experimental design; ecophysiology, biochemical and data analyses; GIS mapping; and, mathematical (computer) modelling. Postgraduate training, including through Royal Society and RCUK courses, will be available.

This project will be based in UKCEH (Bangor).


Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Environmental Science or Natural Sciences.


For further details please contact Dr Felicity Hayes or Dr Kirsti Ashworth