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Recombination in plants: DNA repair and transgene integration

Faculty of Biological Sciences

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Dr C E West Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Plant cells have a remarkably robust response to DNA damage and can withstand extreme genome fragmentation which would result in apoptosis in mammalian cells. This lack of programmed cell death makes plants a good model system for the study of DNA repair pathways as mutants that are lethal in mammals are often viable in the corresponding plant lines. The evolution of high tolerance to DNA damage probably arose as a result of plants photosynthetic, sedentary lifestyle which involves greater exposure to environmental stresses than many other eukaryotes.
The project in my lab will use T-DNA knockout mutant plants to investigate how plants respond to DNA damage and the roles of the different repair pathways in plant growth under stress. These mutant lines will also help us understand how plants integrate transgenes in the process of genetic modification. By manipulating the activities of the different recombination pathways it may be possible to improve the way we make GM plants, which has implications for biotechnology and agriculture.


Suggested reading:

Waterworth W, Kozak J, Provost C, Bray C, Angelis K, West C (2009) DNA ligase 1 deficient plants display severe growth defects and delayed repair of both DNA single and double strand breaks. BMC Plant Biology 9: 79

Kozak, J., West, C.E., White, C., da Costa-Nunes, J.A., and Angelis, K.J. (2009). Rapid repair of DNA double strand breaks in Arabidopsis thaliana is dependent on proteins involved in chromosome structure maintenance. DNA Repair. 8, 413-9.

Bray, C.M., and West, C.E. (2005). DNA repair mechanisms in plants: crucial sensors and effectors for the maintenance of genome integrity. New Phytologist 168, 511-528.

Britt, A.B., and May, G.D. (2003). Re-engineering plant gene targeting. Trends Plant Sci 8, 90-95.

West CE, Waterworth WM, Story GW, Sunderland PA, Jiang Q, Bray CM. (2002) Disruption of the Arabidopsis AtKu80 gene demonstrates an essential role for AtKu80 protein in efficient repair of DNA double-strand breaks in vivo. The Plant Journal 31, 517-28.
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