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White Rose BBSRC DTP i-CASE studentship with KWS: Adapting to climate stress: mechanisms of floral-integrators and clock genes with their application to strategic wheat breeding

   White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership

  Prof S J Davis, Dr N Bird, Dr Laura Dixon, Dr Monika Spiller  Sunday, January 07, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Growth in cereals is tempered by the difference between day and night temperatures, and seasonal drivers of developmental transitions. In the spring, wheat seedlings are exposed to variable expectations on these partially predictable temperature oscillations. We have uncovered key thermometers and thermal responders and have isolated allelic variation of these genes in bread wheat. Our preliminary work has explored how their expression-levels are associated to heritable responses to heading-date variation in field-grown plants. You would generate combinations field-ready mutants. These would be examined for seasonal-trait physiology under controlled and field studies to associate growth and reproductive timing in response to changes in temperature. This predicts how such genes generate "useful" developmental changes relevant to sowing time relative to the seasonal growth one can expect in the Spring. Additionally you would generate a comprehensive phylogenetic and population-based structure of these genes in the hundreds of wheat lines we have generated expression-based transcriptomes. This would be used to perform quantitative tests in these plants in field-grown and stress generated protocols to understand further the role of seasonality genetics. Tuning wheat growth and flowering in response to expected changes in the seasonal and daily variation in temperature provides urgently needed climate resilience.

About the DTP

This studentship is offered as part of the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Mechanistic Biology, which brings together the research of the world-class molecular and cellular bioscience centres at the White Rose universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Our mission is to train excellent bio-scientists who understand how living systems work and can innovate to address global challenges, such as the impact of climate change, a healthier old age, sustainable food production, land use and energy production.

What is on offer?

This is an i-CASE (industry partnership) studentship for entry in October 2024.  

Join us and you will receive a 4-year, funded PhD programme of research and skills training, with cross-disciplinary supervision, plus a structured programme of cohort-wide training and networking events. A highlight is the annual symposium, which is planned and delivered by students.

A unique part of your training will be a fully-funded placement of at least 3 months with the industry partner.

How to apply – Expression of Interest

Students may apply for up to three projects anywhere in the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).  Applications will be to the DTP centrally, using an online Expression of Interest (EoI). The EoI will include:

§ CV information; not submitted separately

§ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) data

§ Names of two referees

Deadline for EoIs is midnight Sunday 7th January 2024.

Submit EoIs using this link:

Shortlisted candidates will be required to make formal applications to the Graduate School at each institution, supplying the necessary paperwork.

Details of the interview process will be decided by the academic and industry partners for this project



Biological Sciences (4) Mathematics (25)

Funding Notes

Appointed candidates will be fully funded for 4 years:
 Tax-free annual stipend at the UKRI rate. The rate for starters in 2023/24 was £18,622. (Rates for 2024/25 starters are not yet available).
 UKRI tuition fees – These are paid directly to the host institution.
 A Research Training and Support Grant
 An allowance for Fieldwork/Conference/Travel
 A fully funded placement with the industry partner
 The industry partner may also make an additional contribution to the research costs and, in some cases, they may offer an uplift to the stipend.


1) Li, W., Tian, Y-.Y., Li, J-.Y., Yuan, L., Zhang, L-.L., Wang, Z., Xu, X., Davis, S.J. , and Liu, J-.X. (2023) A competition-attenuation mechanism modulates thermoresponsive growth at warm temperatures in plants. New Phyt. 237:177-191
2) Ronald, J., Su, C., Wang, L., and Davis S. J. (2022) Cellular localization of Arabidopsis EARLY FLOWERING3 is responsive to light quality. Plant Phys kiac072
3) Ronald, J., Wilkinson, A. J., and Davis, S. J. (2021) EARLY FLOWERING3 sub-nuclear localization responds to changes in ambient temperature. Plant Phys. 87, 2352-2355
4) Ronald, J., McCarthy, K., and Davis, S. J. (2020) GIGANTEA Integrates Photoperiodic and Temperature Signals to Time When Growth Occurs. Mol. Plant. 13: 357-359
Marina Millan-Blanquez, Matthew Hartley, Nicholas Bird, Yann Manes, Cristobal Uauy, Scott A. Boden; A scalable phenotyping approach for female floral organ development and senescence in the absence of pollination in wheat. Development 15 September 2022; 149 (18): dev200889.
Greg Mellers, Jorge González Aguilera, Nick Bird, Ana Lidia Variani Bonato, Sandro Bonow, Eduardo Caierão, Luciano Consoli, Flávio Martins Santana, James Simmonds, Andrew Steed, Gisele Abigail Montan Torres, Cristobal Uauy, Tally I C Wright, Pedro Luiz Scheeren, Paul Nicholson, James Cockram, Genetic Characterization of a Wheat Association Mapping Panel Relevant to Brazilian Breeding Using a High-Density Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Array, G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics, Volume 10, Issue 7, 1 July 2020, Pages 2229–2239
Improved blue aleurone and other segregation systems. Patent No WO2019043082A1 2017
Cha JK*, O’Connor K,* Alahmad S, Lee JH, Dinglasan E, Park H, Lee SM, Hirsz D, Kwon SW, Kwon Y, Kim KM, Ko JM, Hickey LT+, Shin D+, Dixon LE+ (2022) Speed vernalization to accelerate generation advance in winter cereal crops. Molecular Plant 15 (8), 1300-1309
Dixon LE*, Pasquariello M*, Badgami R, Levin KA, Poschet G, Ng PQ, Orford S, Chayut N, Adamski NM, Brinton J, Simmonds J, Steuernagel B, Searle IR, Uauy C, Boden SA (2022) MicroRNA-resistant alleles of HOMEOBOX DOMAIN-2 modify inflorescence branching and increase grain protein content of wheat. Science Advances 8
Bennett T+, Dixon LE+. (2021) Asymmetric expansions of FT and TFL1 lineages characterize differential evolution of the EuPEBP family in the major angiosperm lineages. BMC Biology, 19, 18
Hirsz D, Dixon LE+. (2021) The Roles of Temperature-Related Post-Transcriptional Regulation in Cereal Floral Development. Plants, 10, 2230