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Engineering stomatal patterning in plants for enhanced water use efficiency


   Institute of Molecular, Cell & Systems Biology

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  Dr Rucha Karnik, Dr C A Kidner  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Globally, fresh water usage has increased 6-fold in the past 100 years, twice as fast as the human population, and is expected to double again before 2030, driven mainly by agriculture. Stomata of plants are microscopic pores driving plant gas and water exchanges with the environment. Stomatal transpiration is at the centre of a crisis in water availability and crop production that is expected to unfold over the next 20-30 years.

Plant water use efficiency (WUE), defined as the amount of dry matter produced per unit of water transpired and its is directly related to stomatal function. Stomatal behaviours, including movement, density and patterning impact photosynthetic rate by over 50% when demand exceeds water supply, affecting plant productivity against water use. Hence, engineering stomata for enhanced water use efficiencies is of highest interest towards enhanced crop performance.

This project focuses on mining genetic information from Begonia species of plants that display unique stomatal cluster patterns. The knowledge gained will be used to manipulate stomatal biogenesis and engineer stomatal patterning in Arabidopsis thaliana model plant. Using genetics, cell biology, physiology, protein biochemistry,  structure-function mechanisms associated with stomatal development will be solved. This work is pivotal for mitigating the imminent crisis for agricultural food and freshwater availability as a consequence of climate change.

Qualifications criteria: Applicants applying for a studentship must have obtained, or will soon obtain, a first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualification, in an appropriate discipline; Plant Biology, Cell & Membrane Biology, Biochemistry

Basic hands-on experience in molecular cell biology, plant physiology or protein biochemistry is essential. Knowledge of stomatal biology is desirable.

The student will be based primarily in the Karnik laboratory at the University of Glasgow. Research will be carried out in collaboration with Prof Mike Blatt at the University of Glasgow, Dr Catherine Kidner at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE). Opportunities to learn and engage in cutting edge cross-disciplinary plant science research will be available.

Interviews are expected to be held July 2022


Funding Notes

This 4 Yr PhD studentship is funded by the M L Macintyre Begonia Trust covering tuition fees for UK students and stipend £16,062 (UKRI rate 2022/23).
International students are welcome to apply provided they can fund international tuition fees on their own.
Information for PhD studies at the University of Glasgow can be found at: https://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/mvls/graduateschool/
Please include with your application a detailed CV and a cover letter outlining what is your motivation behind choosing this project, what expertise you will bring to it and any other relevant information that you would like the panel to consider.
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