IBERS Distance Learning Logo

Some Research Project Ideas

Our programme is largely designed for people working in the agrifood sector and most research topics are born from ideas which they feel will be useful to their work. However, if you are stuck for an idea, it’s worth having a look at some of the topics which IBERS' researchers would like to supervise. This loosely grouped list is by no means exhaustive and, as stated, we are more than happy to look at ideas that you feel will benefit your work. Please get in touch with us if any of these are of interest to you.

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’ 
  • Impact of seaweed inclusion in ruminant diets 

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.

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
Markus Ritter

I am Markus Ritter, on the Research Masters (MRes) in Agriculture course, working on a project to evaluate the adoption of biocontrol in large row crop agriculture in Brazil. I am taking the course while working for Andermatt Biocontrol a Swiss company dedicated to the development and commercialisation of biocontrol products. These modules have helped me to update myself and to get a more in-depth understanding of the sustainability concept. The MRes project, a qualitative research study, applying the "Grounded Theory" methodology, is brining interesting insights into the understanding of the farmer behaviour and the farmer 's consciousness of what sustainable farming is. When talking to other leaders in the bio industry, I notice a learning progress, I gained through studying IBERS distance learning modules and the research project. ,

Downloadable Resources

Brochure