The global population is expanding, while the climate becomes less stable and the arable land area available is declining in productivity. As part of the solution to this problem, crop plants capable of growth on marginal land, and with tolerance of climate fluctuations must be developed. This project aims to understand the function of a specific protein complex that enhances stress tolerance in higher plants, called the NDH. The subunits of this protein have been identified, but functional studies are lacking. We aim to understand the mechanism of NDH function by purifying NDH complexes from cyanobacteria and plants, followed by their analysis with biophysical methods: in particular electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy to measure NDH activity. Hypotheses formulated from these experiments will be interrogated by mutagenesis of NDH complexes followed by further measurement. Through further understanding of NDH protein function, we hope to be able to enhance stress tolerance in crop species. This project builds on an existing collaboration, funded by seed money awarded to the Hanke and Roessler groups, and all techniques are well established. The student can expect to learn a broad range of microbiological, molecular genetics, biochemical and biophysical techniques. The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London is a collaborative, dynamic learning environment, where the student can expect to develop a strong research and academic skill set. Applicants should have some experience of biochemical and microbiological laboratory work, with knowledge/interest in biophysics and magnetic resonance an advantage, though not essential.
This position is funded by a QMUL Principal's Postgraduate Research Studentship and is available to EU, UK and International citizens. It will cover tuition fees as well as provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at Research Councils UK rates (£16,553 in 2017-18).
Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project. A masters degree is desirable, but not essential.