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Green perfect: allocation of resources for chloroplast biogenesis


Project Description

Plant biology has arguably never been as relevant as it is today. The biology of chloroplasts underpins the biology of whole plants, and the two most-important impacts of plants for humanity: as food source and as carbon sink. Yet a surprising number of aspects of chloroplast biology remain poorly understood.
Like the solar cells of man-made panels, chloroplasts first need to be built, which requires not only energy but also abundant nutrients for the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids - chloroplasts are very protein-rich and possess their own DNA. This process requires nitrogen for both and phosphate mostly for the latter. Hence chloroplasts are "expensive" organelles, and both nutrients limit chloroplast development. Nitrogen supplementation in particular is energy costly, environmentally damaging, and its loss an important source of greenhouse gases.
Chloroplasts develop from pro-plastids in plant "stem cells" during cellular differentiation. We have carried out a detailed analysis of cell and chloroplast differentiation during development of wheat, which exhibits an ideally-suited full range of cellular developmental stages within a single leaf. That analysis, using quantitative microscopy and examining global gene expression, resolved elementary cellular processes, monitored known chloroplast development regulators, and provided the basis for the search for novel regulators.
The current project will explore how nutrient limitations alter the "total chloroplast compartment" of wheat leaf cells, whether they do so through altering previously known or novel regulators, whether the "expensive" chloroplast genetic machinery (transcription and translation capacity) in particular becomes altered, and what is the impact on photosynthetic performance.
Through targeted alteration of homologues of those chloroplast regulators in the genetic model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, the project will examine whether the impacts of altered nutrient availability on productivity can be minimised, establishing the basis for future, rational improvement.

Please visit our BBSRC DTP webpage to obtain more information on how to apply. Applications are due no later than Tuesday, 15 January 2019. Shortlisted candidates will be notified in early February to schedule an in-person interview during the weeks of 11-22 February, 2019. Any questions about the application process should be sent to . To contact the supervisors see ‘email now’ link below

Funding Notes

The BBSRC DTP studentship award will cover the cost of institutional tuition fees for both degrees supplemented by institutional support for those in a Masters programme. The funding also provides an annual tax-free living stipend with at the standard RCUK rate with London weighting. The amount is currently at £16,777pa for the 18/19 Academic Year. Additional funds are provided yearly towards the cost of research, conference attendance, and other relevant training.

References

Jarvis P, Lopez-Juez E (2013) Biogenesis and homeostasis of chloroplasts and other plastids. Nat. Revs. Mol. Cell Biol. 14:787-802
Long SP, Marshall-Colon A, Zhu XG (2015) Meeting the global food demand of the future by engineering crop photosynthesis and yield potential. Cell 161: 56-66
López-Juez E (2015) Chloroplast biology: Cost-benefit analysis. Nature Plants 1:191
Maekawa M et al. (2015) Impact of the plastidial stringent response in plant growth and stress responses. Nature Plants 1:15167
Mochida K, Shinozaki K (2013) Unlocking Triticeae genomics to sustainably feed the future. Plant Cell Physiol 54: 1931-1950

How good is research at Royal Holloway, University of London in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.00

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

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