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Integrating chromatin structure and global chromosome dynamics

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Our research aims to unravel the biological significance that the different levels of DNA compaction structures and components have on chromosome condensation and DNA processes in the nucleus. We believe that this research will contribute to the understanding of different important themes like cell division, cancer, stem cells, chromosome alterations, fertility and plant breeding.
The role of DNA is to store an individual’s genetic information such that it can be used during normal growth and development and be accurately copied during the different divisions of the cell. Human cells contain DNA totalling about 2 m in length that has to be packed within the cell nucleus which is only 0.01 mm in diameter. Importantly, the DNA must be organised in such a way that it is readily accessible for a variety of crucial processes.
There are different levels of compaction involved in packaging DNA into chromosomes. The basic structure is the nucleosome, formed by wrapping naked DNA around a core of proteins known as histones. The nucleosomes are arranged along the DNA forming a 10nm diameter fibre. The nucleosomal fibre is further compacted by winding it into a 30 nm fibre. This fibre is additionally arranged into loops that are attached to a multi-protein axis called the chromosome scaffold. Although the biochemistry of chromosome-associated proteins has been studied intensively, their interactions to achieve chromosome condensation are still poorly understood.
The key proteins involved in chromosome condensation are conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution. We are using Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant model organism and a good experimental system without any of the ethical issues related to working with animals. We are using a multidisciplinary approach combining new high-resolution cytogenetic techniques, mutant characterisation, proteomic analysis, and systems biology to resolve the complicated interactions of individual chromatin components that result in accurate chromosome condensation.


To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/students/drp.aspx

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.
The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is 31 January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also 31 January each year.

Funding Notes

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. We have a thriving community of international PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students able to find their own funding or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship, Islamic Development Bank).

The postgraduate funding database provides further information on funding opportunities available View Website and further information is also available on the School of Biosciences website View Website


Sanchez-Moran E, Osman K, Higgins JD, Pradillo M, Cuñado N, Jones GH, Franklin FCH. ASY1 co-ordinates early events in the plant meiotic recombination pathway. Cytogenetic and Genome Research (2008) 120: 302-312.

Uanschou C, Siwiec T, Pedrosa-Harand A, Kerzendorfer C, Sanchez-Moran E, Novatchkova M, Akimcheva S, Klein F, Schlögelhofer P. A novel plant gene essential for meiosis is related to the human CtIP and the yeast COM1/SAE2 gene. The EMBO Journal (2007) 26: 5061-5070.

Sanchez-Moran E, Santos JL, Jones GH, Franklin FCH. ASY1 mediates AtDMC1-dependent interhomolog recombination during meiosis in Arabidopsis. Genes & Development (2007) 21: 2220-2233.

Pradillo M, Lopez E, Romero C, Sanchez-Moran E, Cuñado N, Santos JL. An analysis of univalent segregation in meiotic mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana: A possible role for Synaptonemal Complex. Genetics (2007) 175: 505-511.

Jackson N§, Sanchez-Moran E§, Buckling E, Armstrong SJ, Jones GH, Franklin FCH. Reduced meiotic crossovers and delayed prophase I progression in AtMlh3-deficient Arabidopsis. The EMBO Journal (2006) 25(6): 1315-1323. ( §These authors contributed equally to this work)

Higgins JD§, Sanchez-Moran E§, Armstrong SJ, Jones GH, Franklin FC. The Arabidopsis synaptonemal complex protein ZYP1 is required for chromosome synapsis and normal fidelity of crossing over. Genes & Development (2005) 19(20): 2488-500. ( §These authors contributed equally to this work)

Sanchez-Moran E, Higgins J, Mercier R, Armstrong SJ, Jones GH, Franklin FCH. Defining the meiotic proteome in Brassica and Arabidopsis. Cytogenetic and Genome Research (2005) 109(1-3): 181-9.

Sanchez-Moran E, Jones GH, Franklin FCH, Santos JL. A Puromycin-Sensitive Aminopeptidase is essential for meiosis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell (2004) 16: 2895-2909.

Santos JL, Alfaro D, Sanchez-Moran E, Armstrong SJ, Franklin FCH, Jones GH. Partial diploidisation of meiosis in autotetraploid lines of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics (2003) 165: 1533-1540.

Sanchez-Moran E, Armstrong SJ, Santos JL, Franklin FCH, Jones GH. Variation in chiasma frequency among eight accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics (2002) 162: 1415-1422.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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