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Development and Evolution of Shapes: Investigating the genetic pathways governing the leaf shape in Arabidopsis

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

About the Project

The shapes and sizes of organisms and organs are scrupulously conserved within a species. What regulates the shapes and sizes of organisms and their lateral organs are intriguing and fundamental questions in Biology. Understanding the mechanisms controlling shapes and sizes will also lead to new genetic tools that will be essential for tackling the future challenges such as improving crop yield, to support the ever-growing global population.

To this end, we focus on understanding genetic mechanisms controlling diverse shapes and sizes of leaves. Leaves are the main photosynthetic organ and show a great diversity in shape and size. We have been investigating the key regulators controlling the leaf shape in Arabidopsis. Changes in these key regulators alter the final leaf shape and also involve in the natural shape variation among different ecotypes.

In this project you will investigate the genetic pathways governing the leaf shape in Arabidopsis, and also determine how environmental cues affect these genetic pathways. Experimental approaches such as molecular biology, genetics, plant histology and phylogenetic analysis will be used for the study. This includes techniques such as molecular cloning and expression analysis, in situ hybridization, immunolocalization, plant transformation and tissue culture, Scanning Electron Micrography (SEM) and sequence analysis.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


Klingenberg C. P, Duttke S, Whelan S, Kim, M. (2011). Developmental plasticity, morphological variation and evolvability: a multilevel analysis of morphometric integration in the shape of compound leaves. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25, 115-129.

Zoulias N, Koenig D, Hamidi A, McCormick S, Kim M. (2011). A role for PHANTASTICA in medio-lateral regulation of adaxial domain development in tomato and tobacco leaves. Annals of Botany, 109, 407-418.

Kim M, Cui M, Cubas P, Gilles A, Lee K, Chapman M, Abbott R, Coen E. (2008). Regulatory genes control a key morphological and ecological trait transferred between species. Science, 322(5904)

Kim M, McCormick S, Timmermans M, Sinha N. (2003). The expression domain of PHANTASTICA determines leaflet placement in compound leaves. Nature, 424(6947), 438-43.

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