PhD Studentship: Evolution of chemical diversity within the Brassicales

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Prof. Richard Mithen

Project description:

Plants make a diverse range of specialised chemicals in their vegetative and reproductive tissues that are often associated with defending themselves against pests and pathogens. Herbivorous insects and pathogens evolve ways to detoxify these metabolites, which leads to plants evolving new chemicals, and so to progress an co-evolutionary ‘arms race’, leading to the chemical diversity that is within our current flora. The Brassicales is an extraordinary group of plants of diverse natural histories – including ephemeral agricultural weeds of temperate climes, emergent rain-forest trees of south east Asia, salt-marsh halophytes of tropical seas, and shrubby trees of the Australian outback, in addition to our familiar Brassica crops and the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana. Despite these contrasting ecologies they all accumulate a class of sulphur-containing metabolites in their tissues known as glucosinolates. Research on glucosinolates has largely been restricted to those in Arabidopsis and Brassica crops, in which their putative anti-cancer properties have been of interest. However, diverse chemical forms of glucosinolates occur in the non-cultivated members of the Brassicales. In this project, the student will explore how the genes that determine glucosinolates within the Brassicales have evolved. It will involve using the latest techniques in sequencing and transcriptome construction to investigate how chemical diversity of glucosinolates have evolved over the last 100 million years.

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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