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PhD Studentship: Fitness in the field: Does leaf starch metabolism play a role in wheat crop performance? (HAZARD_Q19DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th October 2018
Closes: 26th November 2018

Location Quadram Institute Bioscience
Start date: 1/10/2019
Closing date: 26/11/2018
No. of positions available: 1
Hours: Full-time
Contract: Temporary
Supervisor Brittany Hazard
Project description

Wheat products such as bread and pasta are global staple foods that people eat every day. These foods are a major source of starch, and starches resistant to digestion are an important component of dietary fibre capable of delivering many health benefits. Our research group at Quadram Institute Bioscience and the John Innes Centre in Norwich aims to improve the levels of resistant starch in wheat grains to develop healthier wheat varieties and foods for consumers.

In prior studies we developed wheat grains with substantial increases in resistant starch using mutations in starch branching enzyme II (sbeII) genes. However, preliminary data from field trials suggests there may be negative impacts of the mutations on plant performance in the field. This is important because any negative impacts on plant fitness may mean that consumers will have to pay higher prices for healthier products to compensate for yield losses experienced by growers.

To explain our preliminary observations, we hypothesize that sbeII mutations may affect starch metabolism in the leaves of the wheat plants leading to negative impacts on plant growth.

In this project, the student will utilize new wheat genomics resources including sequenced wheat TILLING mutants, and cutting-edge biochemical, physicochemical and molecular biology techniques to understand the role of sbeII in leaf starch metabolism and how this may impact plant fitness in the field.

The student will build a solid skill set in fundamental plant genetics and metabolic biology and applied trait development for crop breeding. The student will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team across the Norwich Research Park at both the Quadram Institute and the John Innes Centre.

Person Specification UK 2:1 & English Language (6.5 overall, 6 in each section)

Funding notes For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (UKRI rate: £14,777pa – 2018/9), 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. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.  

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 8th, 9th or 10th January 2019. 

The NRP DTP 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. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. 

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

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