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  Resilient Meristems: A systems biology approach to understanding the effects of stress on meristem form and function

   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr AR Jones, Dr H Rogers  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Fluctuations in environmental conditions impact plant developmental programmes, stunting growth and reducing yields. Climate change is likely to seriously increase this problem. Improving the resilience of crops to short periods of stress is therefore an urgent and important goal for sustainable agriculture and food security. 

To sustain growth, plants must maintain robust populations of stem cells within specialised meristematic structures in their roots and shoots, but the cellular processes that produce these structures are susceptible to stresses. We are interested in whether the shoot apical meristem (SAM), which produces leaves, stems and flowers, can be made more tolerant to short periods of stress in order to improve yields. 

The structure and function of the SAM have been extensively studied under ideal laboratory conditions, but despite the increasing impacts of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns on UK and worldwide crop yields, we have not yet asked how the SAM is impacted and modulated by changeable, real-world conditions. For example, are the larger SAMs of domesticated crop plants more or less sensitive to environmental stresses than the smaller SAMs of their wild relatives? And, can we improve robustness in crop yields by reducing environmental plasticity in SAM structure?

In this project you will investigate i) How do environmental conditions affect the cellular structure of the SAM and the spatial signalling pathways that govern it? ii) How does the size and shape of the SAM affect its tolerance to environmental stresses? iii) How has meristem size and shape changed during evolution and domestication?

We are an interdisciplinary group using a combination of cutting-edge live cell imaging, mathematical modelling and genetics to study plant development. If you are fascinated by beautiful patterns, plants, and the environment we would love to hear from you!

Please contact [Email Address Removed] for further information.

Deadline for applications

30th April 2023. We may however close this opportunity earlier if a suitable candidate is identified.

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

Funding only covers Home UK student fees and stipend.
EU and International Students may apply but will need to cover the difference between Home UK and International fees.

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