This course allows you to work alongside our world renowned experts from the School of Life Sciences and gain a ’real research’ experience. You will have the opportunity to select a research project from a variety of thematic areas of research.
You will be part of our collaborative working environment and have access to outstanding shared facilities such as microscopy and proteomics. Throughout your year, you will develop an advanced level of knowledge on your topic of interest as well as the ability to perform independent research in the topic area. Alongside basic science training in experimental design, data handling and research ethics, we will help you to develop skills in critical assessment and communication. This will be supported by workshops in scientific writing, presentation skills, ethics, laboratory safety, statistics, public engagement and optional applied bioinformatics.
From the earliest farmers to modern plant breeders, humans have continually modified the body plan of cereals, sometimes drastically, to generate higher grain yields. Excitingly, recent work in the McKim lab suggests that architecture in barley, a key global crop, is controlled by jasmonate, a classic plant stress/defense hormone (Patil et al., 2019). However, we don’t know how other pathways controlling architecture interact with jasmonate or whether environmental cues use jasmonate to control barley development. In this project, you will use genetic analyses and physiological experiments to understand how the jasmonate pathway controls development in barley. You will also investigate how jasmonate may act as a long-range signal to control plant architecture and how to learn how jasmonate may alter susceptibility to pathogens and pests during plant development. Taken together, you will reveal the developmental roles of jasmonate in barley about which almost nothing is known, and advance our understanding of interactions which influence stem elongation and flowering. Students with a passion for research who are motivated by a desire to improve our food security are the best fit for this project. The student will also benefit from a unique training environment offered by the Division of Plant Sciences, based at the James Hutton Institute (JHI), one of the best centres in the world to study cereals, and the site of the new International Barley Hub (2).