PhD Studentship: Genome engineering to improve drought and salt tolerance in cereals

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Prof Wendy Harwood

Project description:

Extreme and changing weather patterns have already affected global food production and these effects are likely to become more severe. Droughts are responsible for a reduction both in harvested area and in yield. Recent droughts have caused losses to cereal production averaging 13.7%. Biotechnological approaches can contribute to the development of more tolerant cereal varieties.

Barley is both an important crop and an excellent model cereal in which to further investigate genes important in the response to drought and salt stress. The variety Golden Promise was derived following gamma ray mutagenesis of Maythorpe. These two varieties differ significantly in their response to stress with Golden Promise being more stress tolerant. Many genes have been shown to be differentially expressed between Golden Promise and Maythorpe during salt/drought stress. Both of these varieties can be efficiently transformed and we have established efficient RNA-guided Cas9 mediated genome editing in Golden Promise. Therefore, these two varieties provide an excellent experimental system in which to further investigate the genes involved in the stress response. The student will over-express and knock out target genes to determine which genes make the largest contribution to the enhanced stress tolerance in Golden Promise. The key aim will be to devise strategies to engineer enhanced stress tolerance in barley and to then transfer the findings to wheat. They will learn skills in tissue culture, transformation, bioinformatics, molecular biology including Golden Gate cloning methods and genome editing.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 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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South East England