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  Fully-funded White Rose BBSRC DTP Biology project: How did opium poppy evolve to make morphine?


   White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology

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  Prof I A Graham  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lead supervisor: Prof Ian Graham (Department of Biology)

Co-supervisor: Dr Benjamin Lichman (Department of Biology)

The student will be registered with the Department of Biology

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) produces large quantities of valuable bioactive alkaloids, such as morphine and noscapine, which are extracted from the plant for use as pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical precursors. Recently, the genes responsible for alkaloid formation have been identified and found to be co-ordinately regulated. Furthermore, the recent assembly of the whole genome sequence of poppy has revealed that fifteen of these genes are organised in a large cluster, which is relatively unusual in plant genomes. However, the regulatory processes that control poppy alkaloid biosynthesis remain largely unknown.

This project will investigate the regulation of alkaloid biosynthesis in poppy species. You will leverage genome sequences and gene expression data from poppy and relatives to identify transcription factor candidates. These will be characterised experimentally. The recruitment of genes into regulatory networks will be examined in an evolutionary context. This work will lead to a greater understanding of how gene function and gene expression co-evolve to result in the vast array of chemodiversity displayed by plant natural products.

The Department of Biology holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award. We are committed to supporting equality and diversity and strive to provide a positive working environment for all staff and students. 

The WR DTP and the University of York 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.

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 any biological, chemical, and/or physical science backgrounds, or students with mathematical background who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 

Programme: PhD in Mechanistic Biology (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2023

Interviews: Friday 10 February 2023 or Monday 13 February 2023. Please keep these dates free.


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23 academic year)
UK tuition fees
Research support and training charges (RSTC)
International students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these are excluded from UKRI funding.

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