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Engineering The Rice Leaf for Improved Photosynthesis

  • Full or part time
    Prof A Fleming
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Improving photosynthetic efficiency has been identified as one of the few remaining traits for exploitation if we are to achieve the significant increases in crop yield required to feed the projected 9 billion world population by 2050. In recognition of this, major international research efforts are underway to improve rice photosynthetic performance. One of the emerging issues is our incomplete understanding of rice leaf development. We need a deeper knowledge of rice leaf cellular architecture, how it develops, how it impacts on photosynthetic performance, and tools to modify structure. As a result of previous work in the area (Van Campen et al (2016) Plant Physiol. 170, 1655-1674; Lehmeier et al, (2017) Plant J. 92, 981-994) we have a number of projects available for academically outstanding, self-funded PhD students.
• How does the cellular architecture of rice leaves develop? Using quantitative data on cell size/shape during early leaf development, the project will explore the variation of cellular architecture in extant rice varieties and relate these to leaf photosynthetic performance under present and future climate scenarios. What is the optimal rice leaf cellular architecture for a future of elevated CO2?
Background required: microscopy, plant anatomy, plant biochemistry & physiology
• Can we develop tools to modify the early pathway of cellular differentiation in rice leaves? By exploring RNAseq data describing early leaf development, the project will identify genes that control proliferation/differentiation during rice leaf development. Can we modify the trajectory of cellular differentiation in early rice leaf development?
Background required: molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics
• What is the spatial distribution of photosynthetic metabolites within a rice leaf? Present computational models of photosynthesis depend on assumptions on the spatial distribution of various aspects of biochemistry within the leaf. Exploiting novel imaging technologies, the project will develop tools to localise key metabolites to inform ongoing modelling of photosynthesis.
Background required: plant biochemistry, mass spectrometry
The successful candidate(s) will have an excellent background in the academic disciplines indicated combined with an overall interest in plant developmental biology. Sheffield provides excellent infrastructure for the project (ranked in top 5 UK for Biological Sciences in REF2014). You will join an integrated group working on various aspects of leaf structure/function in a range of plant species. Look at our webpages for further information.
Interested? Contact Prof. Andrew Fleming () or apply via

Funding Notes

The applicant will need to find funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses.
Candidates will be invited for interview on a rolling basis until the position(s) are filled.

The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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