Understanding rhizome extent, extension and persistence in Japanese knotweed


Contact Dr Karen Bacon to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

Understanding the extent of the underground biomass and rhizome/seed longevity in the soil is crucial to managing invasive non-native species. Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is suspected to have a large rhizome network that can remain viable in the soil long after herbicide treatment is complete. This has led to the frequently cited 7 m rule being used as a reason to deny mortgage applications on properties with infestations. However, this distance is not based on experimentation and requires further investigation. Depending on student’s interests, the project could (i) use ground penetrating radar to determine the extent of the rhizome network across a range of soil types and stand maturities; (ii) investigate the rate at which Japanese knotweed rhizome extends using historical and current satellite imagery and site investigation across a range of habitat types; (iii) investigate the longevity of buried rhizome material using herbicide treatment, burial and exhumation experiments; (iv) calculate cell death rate microscopically over the period of the research project to determine half-life and to model longevity; (v) investigate the depth that rhizomes are found across a range of soil types and conditions for a range of distances from parent plants.

The project will include working across academia and industry and may include a placement with ecological consultancy AECOM.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in the relevant subject area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

Additional staff contact

Dr Mark Smith and Dr Mark Fennell (AECOM).

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘Understanding rhizome extent, extension and persistence in Japanese knotweed' as well as Dr Karen Bacon as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information about the application process please contact Jacqui Manton e: j.manton@leeds.ac.uk