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Regenerate or Replace: Understanding the logic of plant decisions after tissue damage

Project Description

The process of rebuilding tissue after damage is a complex problem of 3-dimensional organization to regenerate structures that were originally laid down in development.

In plants, we are starting to understand some of the networks of genes and proteins that are involved in regeneration of the root after damage. These networks link together damage signals, environmental signals, intrinsic developmental signals with cellular differentiation and division that act to re-specify stem cells and rebuild the lost structures.

This project will use advanced molecular genetic approaches and imaging combined with the use of computer models to test and understand how these networks are integrated. It may also involve the use of single cell RNA sequencing to follow the dynamics of regeneration. The three supervisors have extensive experience in the root system, bringing together world leading expertise in root biology (Scheres), cell division control (Murray) and modeling (Grieneisen). The student will spend part of the project conducting experiments at the University of Wageningen (Netherlands).

This project will lead to important advances in our understanding of regeneration decisions in plants. Indeed regeneration is a general problem for multicellular organisms and in animal systems it is also not known how tissue regeneration is organized at tissue level and many of the underlying issues are shared.

The network that controls regeneration involves the plant hormones auxin and jasmonate. Acting through other factors, they influence a bi-stable oscillator involving CYCD6, RBR and SHR/SCR (Cruz-Ramirez et al., 2012) that switches on or off the process of regeneration. The transcription factors ERF109 and ERF 115 act in a feedforward control loop to transmit the signal from the damage hormone jasmonate (Zhou et al., 2019). This project will test experimentally the mechanisms by which these components act, and model the controls to understand how they interconnect. The models will provide predictions that can then tested experimentally. Extensive experience in state-of-the-art molecular, cellular, imaging and modeling techniques in plant developmental biology will be acquired.

The project is available immediately, but can start at a mutually agreed date before 1st October 2020 at the latest.

Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Biosciences with a start 1 October 2020:

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from Regenerate or Replace: Understanding the logic of plant decisions after tissue damage.

You should have obtained, or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Biology , or a related subject. Alternatively, applicants with equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK will also be considered. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree. Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS)

For informal queries about this project please contact Professor Jim Murray at .

Funding Notes

The project is fully funded for 3 years by Cardiff University and is open to applicants meeting UK or EU residency requirements. It is not open to non-EU applicants subject to overseas fees.


Cruz-Ramirez et al (2012) Cell 150(5), pp. 1002-1015
Zhou et al (2019) Cell 177(4), pp. 942-956.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.70

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

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