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Plant geometry - the biophysical and molecular basis of gravitropism and growth angle control

Faculty of Biological Sciences

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Dr S Kepinski , Prof N Cohen No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Gravitropism is a fundamental process in the control of plant architecture, which ensures that shoots typically grow up and roots down, allowing light interception and gas exchange above ground and water and nutrient uptake below. These processes of resource capture are enhanced enormously by the production of lateral root and shoot branches that are maintained with respect to gravity rather than the main root-shoot axis from which they arise. For this reason, understanding gravitropism and growth angle control in lateral root and shoot branch growth angle has become focus in efforts to develop crop varieties for lower-input, net zero carbon agriculture.

Despite the central importance of gravitropic response, the underlying biophysical and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism are still relatively poorly understood. Recent discoveries in the Kepinski and Cohen groups at the University of Leeds have provided a new way to approach this fascinating question. Using new mutants, proteomics, and state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including vertical-stage confocal microscopy and machine learning-based imaging analysis, this project will allow you to explore the biophysical and molecular basis of the perception of gravity and the ensuing gravitropic response. The project will involve collaboration with physicists and mathematical modellers and is therefore an exciting opportunity to make important discoveries in plant biology while at the same time receiving a training that is truly interdisciplinary.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC DTP in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2020:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference and research funding

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.

EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency to receive full studentship

The DTP will appoint a number of candidates via a competitive process.

Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Stefan Kepinski ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss the project.
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