Most of our food calories come from cereal grain. The development of cereal plants strongly influences the amount of harvested grain or its yield. Cereal stems elongate when they flower (1). Tall cereals easily fall over, a devastating event for farmers, so controlling cereal height is important for cereal breeders. We recently discovered that jasmonate, a classic plant stress/defense hormone, strongly inhibits both flowering and stem elongation in barley (2), suggesting that the jasmonate pathway may be a good breeding target.
In this project, you will conduct genetic analyses and physiological experiments to reveal the importance of jasmonate to developmental transitions, especially those involved in reproductive growth, as well as susceptibility to pathogens and pests. In particular, you will also exploit CRISPR-Cas gene-editing and TILLING to assemble and phenotype lines defective in the jasmonate pathway. You will also investigate the movement of signalling molecules in the stem and whether this is influenced by jasmonate. Through these approaches, you will reveal the developmental roles of jasmonate in barley, a key global crop, about which almost nothing is known, and advance our understanding of stem elongation and flowering in cereals.
Students with a passion for research and motivated to improve our food security are great candidates for this position. The ideal candidate will contribute to group efforts within the lab. This PhD project will give transferrable lab skills, experience in crop research and exposure to a highly stimulating research environment. The student will participate in post-graduate training and multiple opportunities to engage with the public and at conferences. The student will also benefit from a unique training environment offered by the Division of Plant Sciences, based at the James Hutton Institute (JHI), one of the best centres in the world to study cereals, and the site of the new International Barley Hub (3).
- McKim (2019) for Integrative Journal of Plant Biology. 61:257-277.
- Patil et al (2019) Development 146: dev170373