PhD Studentship: How is plant cell size genetically adjusted and why does it matter? (SABLOWSKI_J17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Robert Sablowski

Project description:

Diverse organisms and different tissues of the same organism have characteristic cell sizes, which are genetically determined. How exactly cell size is set, and how the control of cell size relates to the growth of tissues and organs, are among the remaining mysteries of biology.

Plants are convenient to study this question, because plant cells are immobile and relatively easy to image and measure over time during organ growth. A population of cells that are particularly important for plant growth resides in the shoot meristem, which constantly produces new leaves or flowers at the growing shoot tip.

We have recently shown that cells in the shoot meristem assess and adjust their sizes and that this ability is important for the correct initiation of new organs (Current Biology  25: 2991-2996, 2015). In the present project, the student will investigate the genetic basis for the control of cell size in the meristem, in a collaboration between the Sablowski lab at the John Innes Centre and the Robatzek lab at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich.

The student will be trained in cutting edge plant developmental genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, advanced imaging and quantitative image analysis. The work will give novel insight into the basic processes that drive plant growth, which in the long term will help breeders to improve crop yield.

The project will take place at the John Innes Centre and at the Sainsbury Laboratory, which together form a world-leading centre for plant science research with a lively and interactive community, providing plenty of opportunities to build up a professional network both locally and externally.

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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South East England