PhD Studentship - Iron in Plant Foods (BALK_J18DTP1)

University of East Anglia - Biological Sciences

Location: Norwich (John Innes Centre)

Start Date: 1st October 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Janneke Balk

Project description: Staple crops such as rice, wheat and maize have low amounts of iron and zinc after standard food processing procedures (e.g. polishing of rice, milling). People who rely on these crops as their main energy source are at risk of developing mineral deficiencies. Iron deficiency anemia is widespread among women and children in Asia and East Africa, but also in 5% of the developed world. Our recent research has shown that plants can be ‘made’ to redirect iron into the starchy parts of the grain. By changing the expression of an iron transporter in wheat, we generated wheat lines with double the amount of iron in white flour (Connorton et al 2017 Plant Physiol). This PhD project will further explore the basic mechanisms of iron transport in cereal grains, and investigate heritage wheat varieties to find old landraces with increased iron. The student will be part of the Balk and Uauy labs working at the forefront of genomics and micronutrients in plants. The project offers opportunities to intersect with human nutrition research and international efforts to biofortify crops through the collaborative networks of the Balk and Uauy groups.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Person specification: Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 or equivalent.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), 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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