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[Apply by 26 Nov 2018] Fully-funded four-year bioscience PhD studentship: Rewiring Plant Gene Regulatory Networks

Plants have the ability to alter their growth and development in response to changes in their environment. They do this by altering the expression levels of large suites of genes. Previous work has shown that a small network of genes may be responsible for coordinating large-scale changes in gene expression in response to the detection of pathogens. To develop crops with the ability to deliver high yields in changing environments, we need to advance our understanding of how these networks function and how variations in sequences of the key genes that coordinate these networks affect plant responses. This project will investigate the role of candidate key controllers in a pathogen-response network, using a novel approach of designing synthetic genetic controllers to rewire the network. Our aims are to understand how the network is coordinated and to provide insights into how to breed or rationally engineer plants resilient to stress. The student will be based in the Patron Lab (Earlham Institute, Norwich) and will work in close collaboration with the Denby Lab (University of York) and the Morris Lab (John Innes Centre, Norwich). This exciting, collaborative and multidisciplinary project will employ a range of techniques including molecular plant biology, synthetic biology, genome engineering, systems biology and modelling. It would be suitable for a biologist with, or eager to acquire, computational skills. Training will be provided in all areas.
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The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, as well as commercial partners and external collaborators.