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How does light really control plant biomass?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof K Halliday
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Interested individuals must follow Steps 1, 2 AND 3 at the link on how to apply

This project provides opportunities to work on cutting edge fundamental science that addresses the global challenge of food security.

Plants use external light in two ways: as a signal that provides information about the environment and as a source of energy to drive photosynthesis and growth. The molecular basis of light signalling has been intensively researched (1) however we do not understand how light signalling is integrated with photosynthesis and metabolism to optimise growth. This project seeks to: 1. elucidate the molecular connections between the environmental light sensors (ELS) and core plant metabolism; 2. establish the impact of ELS on the production and deployment of resources for growth. This new knowledge will be used to devise novel strategies to maximise carbon uptake in crops to improve biomass and yield.

The project builds on recent findings that illustrate that the ELS, phytochrome is a principle regulator of photosynthetic gene transcription and CO2 assimilation (2,3). Using a wealth of genetic material and molecular tools, the central aim of the PhD will be to determine how phytochrome impacts carbon uptake, storage and use. The principal phytochrome-activated molecular mechanisms will be determined providing the first in-depth understanding of how ELS and carbon metabolism are coordinated.

Development: You will work in a vibrant lab that has strong experimental, modelling and outreach components. You will acquire a range of molecular and whole plant analytical skills including: qRT-PCR; protein assays e.g. western blotting, yeast-two-hybrid, chromatin IP; new gene silencing technologies; quantification of physiological traits associated with yield; and you will become proficient in metabolite analysis. Through regular interaction with crop scientists you will have the opportunity to develop strategies to take your findings through to application in crops. There will also abundant opportunity for you to present your research at regular lab meetings, at national and at international conferences.

Supervisor: Dr Karen Halliday
Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB)
School of Biological Sciences, Edinburgh University.
[Email Address Removed]
http://hallidaylab.bio.ed.ac.uk/ (other projects are also available)

Funding Notes

Interested individuals must follow the instructions at this link on how to apply

If you would like us to consider you for one of our scholarships you must apply by 9.00am on the 16th December 2013 at the latest.


1. Franklin and Quail. (2010) Phytochrome functions in Arabidopsis development. J Exp Bot. 61(1):11-24.

2. Strasser et al. (2010) Arabidopsis thaliana life without phytochromes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 107(10):4776-81.

3. Hu et al. (2013) Unanticipated regulatory roles for Arabidopsis phytochromes revealed by null mutant analysis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 110(4):1542-7.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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