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Evolution Education Trust PhD project: Elucidation of chromatin remodelling mediated coordinated regulation of resistance gene clusters

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018. Visit our website: https://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/milner-centre-for-evolution/.

Project Overview:

Plant diseases pose major threats to global food security. Therefore, understanding diverse infection strategies used by plant pathogens to cause disease, and how plants evolved an effective immune system to defend themselves against these pathogens are crucial for developing novel disease resistant crop plants.

Plant intracellular nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat-containing immune receptors encoded by highly variable disease resistance (R) genes activate strong defense response providing excellent protection against invading pathogens. Resistance genes are frequently found as clusters following paralog exchange or duplication events. Such paralogs evolved new pathogen recognition specificities enabling plants to expand their resistance to distinct pathogens or multiple isolates of the same pathogen. Both activity and the expression of R genes are tightly regulated in such clusters as unintended de-repression of these genes could have detrimental effects on plant growth and development. it is not well understood how these clustered R genes are kept repressed but coordinately activated during pathogen attack.

In this project, you will elucidate mechanisms controlling repression and coordinated activation of R genes in such clusters, and how structural variation present among accessions affects such events. You will determine the changes in chromatin architecture (H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 marks and H2A.Z occupancy) via Chromatin Immunoprecipitation as well as coordinated gene expression through RNASeq experiments in different R gene clusters in the absence or presence of pathogen infection of wild type and distinct chromatin remodeling mutants of the model plant Arabidopsis. You will also carry out recombineering-based approach to determine regulatory cis-elements within R gene clusters.

Information about the research of Dr Cevik may be found here: https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/volkan-cevik.


Applicants should have an excellent academic record and hold, or expect to obtain, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Enquiries and Applications:

All enquiries should be addressed to Dr Volkan Cevik, .

** Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss projects directly with the lead supervisor before submitting an application.**

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biology:

On the application form, please ensure that you quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to be considered for more than one project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

It is essential that your application is complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. You should ensure that you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees who are available and willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). In addition, you should ensure that you have uploaded the following documents:
• a scanned copy of the certificate/s for any degree/s you have been awarded;
• a scanned copy of your degree transcript/s or your interim transcript if you are still studying;
• an up-to-date CV;
• a personal statement explaining your motivation for wishing to study a PhD and your interest in the specific project for which you are applying;
• English language test certificate (if available) for EU candidates.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Interviews will take place in Bath on Friday 3 April 2020.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Unfortunately, we are NOT able to consider international applicants for this project.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3.5-year Evolution Education Trust Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research, training and outreach expenses.

Note: Only UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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