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Temperature regulation of non-coding RNA and crop - rhizosphere interactions


Project Description

Project details:

Crop plants manipulate rhizosphere interactions through the release of root exudates. Whilst root exudates can attract beneficial microbes, they are also exploited by pathogens and plant parasitic nematodes (PPNs). Our data indicate that temperature modifies tomato root exudate composition, altering interactions with microbes and PPNs. We have developed transcriptomic and small RNA datasets for developmentally matched tomato cv. Moneymaker seedlings grown at 18, 23 and 28 degrees C, revealing considerable regulation of small and long non-coding (nc)RNAs. Our central hypothesis is that temperature-modulated ncRNAs function as master regulators of gene expression networks and root exudate composition, influencing rhizosphere interactions relevant to crop health and yield. Understanding the role of individual ncRNAs in regulating these interactions will underpin efforts to develop improved, climate-resilient crops. This project will involve the development of transgenic tomato plants expressing RNAi / CRISPR-Cas9 constructs to study aspects of gene function, which will be related to root exudate chemistry using LC-Qtof-MS / GC-MS, and rhizosphere interactions through molecular and behavioural assays relevant to economically important microbes and PPNs. Root architecture will also be assessed non-destructively in soil by X-ray CT. This project includes international training opportunities.

This project will be supervised by Dr Johnathan Dalzell and Dr Fuquan Liu of Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences and Dr Daniel Coyne of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Kenya.

All applications MUST be submitted through https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php.

Specific skills/experience required by applicants:

Prior experience with molecular techniques / plant transformation / plant parasitic nematodes / rhizosphere microbes / bioinformatics would be beneficial for this project. We are open to applications from motivated individuals who feel that they can bring creative new ideas to this project.

All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/biological-sciences-phd.html#entry

Funding Notes

Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: View Website.

Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.40

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

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