About the Project
To capture the stochasticity in cell dedifferentiation, stem cell activation, and cell re-differentiation, we will employ the microfluidics lab-on-a-chip technology that allows in situ quantitative observation of single cell behaviours over time. Inspired by cell traps made for other organisms (e.g. Crane et al., 2014), we have developed a bespoke cell trap to hold plant single cells. In each experiment, more than 2,000 cells can be trapped and monitored over several days, using an automated live-imaging platform. The temporal dynamics of fluorescent marker activity in each cell will be characterised and collated to provide new insights into the cell fate reversal and regaining of pluri- or toti-potency. In subsequent experiments, stochasticity will be modulated by induction of stem cell activity or specific cell identify, to test the roles of noise in cell dedifferentiation and re-differentiation. Stochasticity seems to be increased or reduced depending on the architecture of regulatory mechanism, as well as the cell-cell interaction level (Smith and Grima, 2018). Such theories will be incorporated into comparative analysis of differences in stochasticity levels between single-cell and tissue contexts.
This project will experimentally test the roles of stochasticity in cell fate specification and reversal. It will provide a student with first-hand, state-of-the-art trainings in both experimental and computational approaches of systems and integrated biology.
The student will be supervised by the plant cell and developmental biologist Dr Naomi Nakayama, with the secondary supervision by the theoretical physicist Dr Ramon Grima. S/he will be based in the Nakayama group, but will interact with the Grima group on the regular basis. For more information about the both groups, please visit the group websites: www.bfflab.org (the Nakayama Group, also called the Biological Form and Function Lab) and http://grimagroup.bio.ed.ac.uk (the Grima Group).
If you would like us to consider you for one of our scholarships you must apply by 12 noon on 13 December 2018 at the latest.
Crane et al. (2014) A microfluidic system for studying ageing and dynamic single-cell responses in budding yeast. PLoS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100042.
Smith and Grima. (2018) Single-cell variability in multicellular organisms. Nature Communications. 9:345.
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