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Tag your it!!!: How Do Post Translational Modifications enable adaptive responses in plants

Department of Biosciences

Prof A Sadanandom , Prof A Jones Friday, January 22, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Durham United Kingdom Cell Biology Molecular Biology Plant Biology

About the Project

Proteins undergo post-translational modifications (PTMs) that have evolved in all forms of life as a mechanism for rapidly adapting protein function in response to many different kinds of stimuli. PTMs are known to be involved with cell signalling, enabling protein-protein interactions, protein turnover, and in the context of plants, are intrinsically involved in key traits, such as response to stresses (drought, flooding, pathogens).

In this project, you will be working on an emerging protein modification system called SUMO. You will be trained in the latest omics technologies such as proteomics, single cell transcriptomics and light sheet bioimaging to understand how environmental signals enable the cellular machinery to add or remove SUMO from target proteins, and thus rapidly alter their function. You will also be trained in computational biology to analyse these data types. You will be trained in coding, data visualisation and machine learning, with a view to the discovery of the functional consequences of SUMOylation that are intrinsically associated with desirable traits in plants. You will be embedded within a highly active and collaborative research environment, with potential for involvement with, and travel to, major international research programmes that aims to understand adaptive responses mediated by post-translational modification.

Informal enquiries may be made to


Applications should be made by emailing with a CV and a covering letter, including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project/s and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected. We will also require electronic copies of your degree certificates and transcripts.

In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the NLD BBSRC DTP Studentship Application Details Form (Word document) to , noting the additional details that are required for your application which are listed in this form. A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Funding Notes

Studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


• SUMO Conjugation to BZR1 Enables Brassinosteroid Signaling to Integrate Environmental Cues to Shape Plant Growth. Curr Biol. 20;30(8):1410-1423.e3. (2020)
• Root branching toward water involves posttranslational modification of transcription factor ARF7. Science 362:1407-1410 (2018)
• SUMO conjugation to the pattern recognition receptor FLS2 triggers intracellular signalling in plant innate immunity, Nature Comms 9:5185 (2018)
• Sadanandom A, Ádám É, Orosa B, Viczián A, Klose C, Zhang C, Josse EM, Kozma-Bognár L, Nagy F. SUMOylation of phytochrome-B negatively regulates light-induced signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1;112(35):11108-13. (2015)
• Strong anion exchange-mediated phosphoproteomics reveals extensive human non-canonical phosphorylation , EMBO Journal (2019)
• Small Ubiquitin-like modifier protein, SUMO enables plants to control growth independently of the phytohormone gibberellin Dev. Cell, 28, 102–110. (2014)
• Rice SUMO protease Overly Tolerant to Salt 1 targets the transcription factor, OsbZIP23 to promote drought tolerance in rice. Plant J. 92(6):1031-1043. ( 2017).
• BTB-BACK Domain Protein POB1 Suppresses Immune Cell Death by Targeting Ubiquitin E3 ligase PUB17 for Degradation. PLOS Genetics. (2017)
• ProteomeXchange provides globally coordinated proteomics data submission and dissemination. Nature Biotechnology 32, 223-226, (2014)
• Evaluation of parameters for confident phosphorylation site localization using an Orbitrap Fusion tribrid mass spectrometer, J. Proteome Research (2017)
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