MSc Thesis Topic: The evaluation of possible effects of genetically modified plants on soil (microbial) communities

In the ERGO project we are looking for enthusiastic students, who are interested in examining the possible effects of Genetically Modified Arabidopsis on the soil community. There are a variety of opportunities available how to examine these effects, depending on the interest of the student and previous experience.

What is the program about?

The Dutch government initiated this program to evaluate the effects and have a good scientific basis to decide whether or not to allow Genetically Modified plants into the Dutch agricultural system. Your results directly contribute to this decision and therefore accuracy is important.

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What can you do?

Microorganism: with the Help of DGGE or/and PLFA, soil samples of pots with Genetically Modified plants are analyzed and compared to soil samples taken from “normal” ecotypes of Arabidopsis. Previous knowledge of DNA extraction, PCR or DGGE might be helpful but is not absolutely necessary.

Springtails/Nematodes/Mites/Pot worms/ Earthworms: With the help of microscopy and a variety of extraction techniques the effects on these organism groups can be investigated.

Interested

The Modified Arabidopsis lines will probably be available between the end of 2008 and early 2009 and greenhouse experiments are possible during the entire year. If you want to start earlier, in the same project there are other possibilities (evaluating the effects of cultivation).

Duration: depending on your previous experience but at least 2 months.