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Molecular mechanisms underpinning heterostyly in Primula (GILMARTINPU18SCID)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof P Gilmartin
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The majority of Primula species exhibit heterostyly, which Darwin recognised as a mechanism to promote insect-mediated cross-pollination. Plants produce either pin (long style, low anther) or thrum (short style high anther) self-incompatible flowers; inter-morph crosses lead to seed set. Differential development of the two heteromorphic forms of flower is controlled by the S locus, a co-adapted linkage group of genes that control anther height, style length, stigma shape and texture, corolla tube shape, and pollen size. We recently completed a de novo assembly of the P. vulgaris genome which, together with a BAC walk across the S locus region, revealed the sequence and structure of the entire gene cluster that controls heterostyly in Primula. We showed that the S locus contains five genes that are only found in thrum as a hemizygous region located near the centromere of the largest metacentric chromosome. Through the analysis of mutant long and short homostyle flowers with anthers and stigma at the same height, high and low in the flower respectively, we defined the style length suppression gene and the anther elevation gene. The available PhD project provides an opportunity to join our laboratory team to explore the developmental and evolutionary biology of Primula heterostyly through molecular genetic and bioinformatic characterisation of S locus genes in P. vulgaris and other members of this genus. The project offers the opportunity to develop a range of skills and expertise in a wide range of experimental techniques.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

The type of programme: PhD

Start date of the project: October 2018

Entry Requirements: Acceptable first degree Biological sciences, genetics, molecular biology or related subject; experience or aptitude in bioinformatics is also relevant.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by the Faculty of Science for 4 years. Funding is available to EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,777. Overseas applicants may apply but they will be required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas fees (in 2017/18 the difference is £13,805 but fees are subject to an annual increase).


) LI, J., Cocker, J.M., Wright, J., Webster, M.A., McMullan, M., Dyer, S., Swarbreck, D., Caccamo, M., van Oosterhout, C. & Gilmartin, P.M. (2016) The genetic and molecular architecture of the Primula S locus supergene. Nature Plants 2 Article Number 16188

ii) Li, J., Webster, M.A., Wright, J., Cocker, J.M., Smith, M.C., Badakshi, F., Heslop-Harrison, P. & Gilmartin, P.M. (2015) Integration of genetic and physical maps of the Primula vulgaris S locus and localization by chromosome in situ hybridisation. New Phytologist 208: 137-148
iii) Cocker, J.M., Webster, M.A., Li, J., Wright, J., Kaithakottil, G., Swarbreck, D. & Gilmartin, P.M. Oakleaf: an S locus-linked mutation of Primula vulgaris that affects leaf and flower development. New Phytologist 208: 149-161
iv) Gilmartin, P.M. (2015) On the origins of observations of heterostyly in Primula. New Phytologist 208: 39-51
v) Li, J., Dudas, B., Webster, M., Cook, H., Davies, B. & Gilmartin, P.M. (2010) Hose in Hose, an S locus-linked mutant of Primula vulgaris is caused by an unstable mutation at the Globosa locus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107: 5664-5668

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