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A comparative biology approach to understanding differences in monocot and dicot stem architecture

   Department of Biosciences

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  Dr P Etchells, Dr L Shillito, Dr A Richardson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Selection of plants for increases in grain size and number is essential to feed the growing world population. These plants will also require increases in stem strength to support the increased weight of the inflorescence, particularly in wet and windy conditions. Such changes are likely to become increasingly important as we enter a period of climate uncertainty. This project aims to understand how key genes interact to generate patterns of development in barley stems. The student will have the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary team, gaining expertise in genome editing of crops and state-of-the art imaging using X-ray Computer Tomography. These combined methodologies will both equip the student with essential skills for scientific research and will help address important questions that contribute to food security. 


Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with:

·        a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);

·        a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd ranked project, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University;

·        copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;

·        a copy of your IELTS or TOEFL English language certificate (where required);

·        a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (as a Word document) to [Email Address Removed]. A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed].

The deadline for all applications is 12noon on Monday 9th January 2023. 

Funding Notes

Studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


A PXY-mediated transcriptional network integrates signaling mechanisms to control vascular development in Arabidopsis. (2020) Plant cell, 32:3 19-335
Younger Dryas and early Holocene subsistence in the northern Great Basin: multiproxy analysis of coprolites from the Paisley Caves, Oregon, USA. (2020)Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 12: 224
Evolution of the grass leaf by primordium extension and petiole-lamina remodeling. (2021) Science, 374: 1377-1381
A heat-shock inducible system for flexible gene expression in cereals. (2020) Plant Methods. 16:1-16
Wood formation in trees is increased by manipulating PXY-mediated gene expression. (2015) Current Biology, 25: 1050-1055
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