PhD and MSc positions in plant stress biology

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Doohan
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PhD and MSc positions in plant stress biology

 
SUMMARY
Cereals crops represent the most important food source for humans and animals and are a growing source of biofuels. The next 50 years will present new challenges for cereal production. These challenges include the doubling of the world population, the increased use of land for the cultivation of biofuel crops, increases in both temperature and drought (climate change), and the increasing need for new methods for plant nutrition and disease control, driven by negative environmental impacts of fertilisers and pesticides. In light of these challenges, this project focuses on unravelling novel mechanisms involved in wheat response to stress and delivering knowledge and tools that can be used to improve crop and plant cell productivity.  Consequently, it will contribute to our understanding of basic plant biology, and to the development of competitive and sustainable means for enhancing the productivity of food, feed, biofuel and plant cell cultures (biopharming).
Fusarium fungi that attack wheat can produce a mycotoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), that acts as a disease virulence factors, facilitating Fusarium parasitism of wheat.  DON is a protein synthesis inhibitor, and causes cell death in eukaryotes. The wheat genome has co-evolved with the Fusarium pathogen and its toxic metabolites. We have identified a range of wheat genes that are DON responsive and, in exotic wheat germplasm, most are associated with the phenotypic resistance to DON-induced bleaching and are located within a chromosomal locus that confers resistance to both DON and Fusarium pathogens. Three of these genes have been shown to directly contribute to the DON resistance of such wheat germplasm (VIGS analysis). One is a novel, evolutionary divergent gene. These and other DON-resistance associated genes, offer potential for enhancing eukaryotic stress tolerance. Using a combination of gene overexpression/silencing studies and a range of analytical and molecular techniques, we now want to determine whether the encoded proteins can enhance biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in whole plants (wheat) and plant cell cultures (tobacco, Arabidopsis). Additionally, we want to characterise novel genes and associated pathways that enhance plant stress resistance.
This proposal draws on the complimentary expertise of an international team of scientists in order to deliver on its objectives.
 
WE NOW WISH TO APPOINT A TEAM OF FOUR SCIENTISTS TO THIS PROJECT, INCLUDING
A postdoctoral scientist; this will be advertised SEPARATELY IN THE NEAR FUTURE
Two PhD students
An MSc student
 
 
The postdoctoral scientist will focus on several (three) toxin-responsive genes and will oversee and conduct research in order to

  • Analyse the effect of gene silencing/overexpression on wheat yield, heat tolerance, pathogen resistance and herbicide tolerance
  • Determine the effect of these genes on plant programmed cell death
  • Determine the identity of wheat proteins that interact with one novel toxin-responsive wheat protein
  • Analyse the importance of putative motifs within one novel toxin-responsive protein in protein-protein interactions and the activity of interacting proteins
  • Localise (at the cellular and tissue level) the encoded proteins
  • Determine the substrate specificity and function of these genes

 
Minimum requirements for the postdoctoral scientist:
·         A PhD in plant science from an internationally reputable institution (completed)
·         A BSc (2:1 or higher) in botany/plant science/microbiology/biochemistry/molecular biology/crop science from an internationally reputable institution (completed)
·         Experience of plant (preferably monocot) transformation
·         Extensive molecular biology expertise, including vector construction, RNA/DNA analysis, etc.
·         Experience of confocal microscopy
·         Major author of a minimum of three publications in international peer-reviewed journals, or equivalent
 
Desirable requirements for the postdoctoral scientist:
·         Experience of protein science
·         Plant pathology expertise
·         Cell biology expertise
·         Experience of student supervision, project report writing
·          
 
 
 
 
PhD student 1 will focus on toxin-responsive genes and conduct research in order to
·      Analyse the effect of gene silencing/overexpression on wheat yield, heat tolerance, pathogen resistance and herbicide tolerance (four genes)
·      Characterise the promoter region of one novel toxin-responsive gene and analyse the regulation of this gene and genes that encode interacting proteins
·      Determine the substrate specificity and function of one select stress resistance-associated gene
 
PhD student 2 will focus on toxin-responsive genes and conduct research in order to
·      Determine the effect of several select DON resistance-associated genes on plant programmed cell death
·      Localise (at the cellular and tissue level) the proteins encoded by three toxin-responsive genes
·      Determine the substrate specificity and function of a select stress resistance-associated gene
 
Minimum requirements for the PhD students:
 
·         A BSc (2:1 or higher) in botany/plant science/microbiology/biochemistry/molecular biology/crop science from an internationally reputable institution (completed)
·         Substantial molecular biology expertise, including vector construction, RNA/DNA analysis, etc.
·         Plant biology experience – practical and theoretical
 
Desirable requirements for the PhD students:
·         A MSc (2:1 or higher) in botany/plant science/microbiology/biochemistry/molecular biology/crop science from an internationally reputable institution (completed)
·         Experience in monocot research
·         Co-authorship of peer-reviewed publications in international journals
·         Cell biology or plant transformation experience
 
The MSc student will conduct research in order to

  • Analyse the effect of gene silencing/overexpression on wheat yield, heat tolerance, pathogen resistance and herbicide tolerance (2 genes)
  • Determine the substrate specificity and function of a select stress resistance-associated gene

 
 
Minimum requirements for the MSc student:
 
·         A BSc (2:1 or higher) in botany/plant science/microbiology/biochemistry/molecular biology/crop science from an internationally reputable institution (completed)
·         Substantial molecular biology expertise, including vector construction, RNA/DNA analysis, etc.
 
Desirable requirements for the MSc students:
·         Plant biology experience – practical and theoretical
·         Experience in monocot research
·         Co-authorship of peer-reviewed publications in international journals
·         Cell biology or plant transformation experience