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WR DTP project: Mechanistic dissection of quantitative variation in the plant circadian clock

Department of Biology

About the Project

The seasonal timing of growth is critical for plant performance. The circadian clock holds a key place in such seasonal adjustment as adaptation to new locations is realised. This exciting PhD project takes a mathematical/statistical analysis approach to uncover molecular, quantitative-genetic insights of natural circadian clock alleles that respond to seasonal changes using the model plant Arabidopsis. As Arabidopsis is widely distributed from the equator to the Arctic Circle, it serves as a fantastic model for a migratory species. The proposed work exploits our successes in QTL identification of clock alleles and cloning the underlying genes (Anwer et al. 2014 eLife; Rubin et al. 2017 Mol Ecol.; Rubin et al. 2018 New Phyt; Yarkhunova et al. 2018 Plant Cell Env; Ronald et al. 2019 Plant Cell Env; Anwer et al. 2020 Plant J; Chen et al. 2020 Nature P; Müller et al. 2020 Plant Phys). You will analyse gene-expression variation in the circadian clock from latitudinal mapping populations of Arabidopsis harbouring vital reporters to measure the oscillator in living plants. You will discover novel dynamic, time- evolving circadian activities by means of newly developed informatics and statistical computational approaches. Using state-of-the-art statistics, natural variation holds great promise to uncover new mechanisms within the clock in response to seasonal cues changes.

The White Rose DTP in Mechanistic Biology is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Programme in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

Not all projects will be funded; a limited number of candidates will be appointed via a competitive process.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021

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