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  Fully-funded White Rose BBSRC DTP Biology project: Perception of evening coolness in bread wheat: a key role for phytochrome in heading date


   White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology

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  Prof S J Davis  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lead supervisor: Prof Seth Davis (Department of Biology)

Co-supervisors: Dr Andrea Harper (Department of Biology) and Dr Laura Dixon (University of Leeds Department of Biological Sciences)

The student will be registered with the Department of Biology 

Growth in cereals is tempered by the difference between day and night temperatures. In the spring, wheat seedlings are exposed to variable expectations on these partially predictable temperature oscillations. The "photoreceptor" phytochrome is a key thermometer and we isolated critical allelic variation in bread wheat. Our preliminary work has explored how PHY expression-levels are associated to detected QTLs for heritable heading-date variation in field-grown plants. 

You would generate all mutant combinations of phy nulls. These would be examined for seasonal-trait physiology under controlled and field studies to associate growth and reproductive timing in response to changes in temperature. This predicts how phytochrome nulls generate "useful" developmental changes relevant to sowing time relative to the seasonal growth one can expect in the Spring. 

Additionally you would generate a comprehensive phylogenetic and population-based structure of PHY genes in the hundreds of wheat lines we have generated expression-based transcriptomes. This would be used to perform GWAS tests in these plants to understand further the role of phytochromes as a thermometer in photoperiodic control of heading. Tuning wheat growth and flowering in response to expected changes in the seasonal and daily variation in coolness provides climate resilience.

The Department of Biology at York 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.


Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Mathematics (25)

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.

Where will I study?

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