Lateral gene transfer (LGT) is a widespread phenomenon in grasses that has moved functional genes across the family into domesticated and wild species alike. Key crops such as maize, wheat and rice have dozens of lateral acquired genes in their genomes, but how they got there and the effect they have is unknown. The student will investigate the mechanics of LGT in key crops using a combination of cutting edge experimental, genetic and computational approaches.
The three main fundamental biological are questions:
 How is this foreign DNA inserted into the genome of the recipient? Are the genes randomly inserted into the genome, or are there specific target sites that might hint at the mechanisms behind the transfers
 How are the transferred genes actually used by the recipient plant? Just because you have the recipe doesn't necessarily mean you know how to express it.
 Do LGTs in crops play a role in environmental adaptation or certain agronomic traits?
The outcomes of this project have the potential to alter our understanding of how plants can rapidly adapt to environmental change through trading genetic secrets, with potential impacts on future crop generation and climate change mitigation.
The BBSRC WR DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.
Note: Relocation costs for international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) will be the responsibility of the student
Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.
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Programme: PhD in Mechanistic Biology (4 years)
Start Date: 1st October 2023
Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed mid February 2023