PhD Studentship: Molecular Mechanisms Underpinning Heterostyly in Primula (GILMARTIN_U17SCID)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: Jan 2018

Supervisor: Prof. Philip Gilmartin

Project description: The majority of Primula species exhibit heterostyly, which Darwin recognised as a mechanism to promote insect-mediated cross-pollination. Plants produce either pin (long style, low anther) or thrum (short style high anther) self-incompatible flowers; inter-morph crosses lead to seed set. Differential development of the two heteromorphic forms of flower is controlled by the S locus, a co-adapted linkage group of genes that control anther height, style length, stigma shape and texture, corolla tube shape, and pollen size. We recently completed a de novo assembly of the P. vulgaris genome which, together with a BAC walk across the S locus region, revealed the sequence and structure of the entire gene cluster that controls heterostyly in Primula. We showed that the S locus contains five genes that are only found in thrum as a hemizygous region located near the centromere of the largest metacentric chromosome. Through the analysis of mutant long and short homostyle flowers with anthers and stigma at the same height, high and low in the flower respectively, we defined the style length suppression gene and the anther elevation gene. The available PhD project provides an opportunity to join our laboratory team to explore the developmental and evolutionary biology of Primula heterostyly through molecular genetic and bioinformatic characterisation of S locus genes in P. vulgaris and other members of this genus. The project offers the opportunity to develop a range of skills and expertise in a wide range of experimental techniques. A strong grounding in genetics, molecular biology, or a related discipline is essential, as is the ability to work collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team.  Our UEA laboratory is hosted by the Earlham Institute on the Norwich Research Park.

Person specification: The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1. Acceptable first degrees include Biological sciences, genetics, molecular biology or related subject; experience or aptitude in bioinformatics is also relevant.

Funding notes:

This 3 year PhD studentship is funded by the Faculty of Science.  Funding is available to EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553. Overseas applicants may apply but they will be required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas fees (in 2017/18 the difference is £13,805 but fees are subject to an annual increase).

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