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How do circadian rhythms shape the responses of plants to climate change? (DODD_J22DTP)

   Graduate Programme

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  Dr A Dodd  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Living organisms can tell the time. This is because they contain circadian clocks, which produce a cellular measure of the time of day. In plants including crops, circadian rhythms are of crucial importance because they impact growth rates, metabolism, developmental programmes and stress tolerance. Therefore, circadian regulation has an incredibly pervasive influence upon plant life that affects crop performance. We need to know how circadian rhythms adapt plants to their naturally fluctuating environments, to take advantage of the incredible recent progress in understanding the molecular structure of circadian clocks. We do not know how environmental alterations that are being caused by climate change will affect the important contribution that circadian regulation makes to plant performance in nature.

This pioneering PhD project will contribute to these major questions by investigating how future climate scenarios affect plant physiology and development through their effects upon circadian regulation. It will provide training in laboratory-based molecular genetics research with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, in quantitative analysis of circadian time-series data using new approaches and computational tools, and offers the possibility of field-based studies of circadian rhythms. The novel biological insights from the PhD will help to better understand how plants respond and adapt to changes in temperature, and contribute to the future development of crops that are more resilient to climate change. This project will be based at the John Innes Centre and combines the expertise of the Dodd lab in circadian regulation and environmental signalling, with the Penfield lab in developmental responses to temperature, to enable a new area of innovative research.

The Norwich Research Park (NRP) Biosciences Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) is offering fully-funded studentships for October 2022 entry. The programme offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Please note that all international awards have been made for our programme for 2022 entry so we will not be accepting applications from international candidates, as defined by UKRI’s International Eligibility criteria for UKRI funded studentships (Annex B).

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 27July 2022. 

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend to cover living expenses (2022/3 stipend rate: £16,062), and a Research Training Support Grant of £5,000pa for each year of the studentship.


Paajanen P, Dantas LLB, Dodd AN (2021). Layers of crosstalk between circadian regulation and environmental signalling in plants. Current Biology 31, R399-413.
Belbin FE, Hall GJ, Jackson AB, Schanschieff FE, Archbald G, Formstone A, Dodd AN (2019). Plant circadian rhythms regulate the effectiveness of a glyphosate-based herbicide. Nature Communications 10, article 3704.
Frank A, Matiolli CC, Viana AJC, Hearn TJ, Kusakina J, Belbin FE, Newman DW, Yochikawa A, Cano- Ramirez DL, Chembath A, Cragg-Barber K, Haydon MJ, Hotta CT, Vincentz M, Webb AAR, Dodd AN (2018). Circadian entrainment in Arabidopsis by the sugar-responsive transcription factor bZIP63. Current Biology 28, 2597-2606.
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