PhD Studentship: Development and Genetics of Carnivorous Traps (COEN_J17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Enrico Coen

Project description: Pitcher-shaped leaves have evolved four times independently in flowering plants: in the Caryophyllales, Ericales, Oxalidales and Lentibulariaceae.  In all cases they are associated with a carnivorous habit and provide a mechanism for trapping insects or other small animals.  The leaves are cup-shaped and have protrusions or lids that help to trap the prey. However, the detailed mechanism by which these leaves develop has been little studied. This project will concentrate on development of leaves in Utricularia gibba Bladderwort, Lentibulariaceae) which has several advantages for experimental study, such as a small genome size, transformabilty and small transparent leaf traps.  The aim of the project is to apply imaging, molecular genetic and computational approaches to Utricularia to arrive at a deeper understanding of how pitcher-shaped leaves develop and may have evolved from simpler leaf shape.

The aim of the project will be to follow up Utricularia gibba mutants that affect trap development and carry out:(1) Molecular genetic analysis of affected genes; (2) Developmental analysis through 3D and confocal imaging; (3) Live imaging to determine growth dynamics; (4) Clonal analysis to extract growth patterns and (5) Computational modelling to formulate hypotheses for growth and development.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296 pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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