A candidate gene linking root development and stomatal physiology

False colour Arabidopsis plants


We have identified a gene involved in both root development and guard cell signalling and are investigating the molecular pathways involved and the gene's role in the control of growth and water use, in both Arabidopsis and rice.

Work in the Lab has identified a gene that appears to link root development, leaf organogenesis and guard cell signaling in Arabidopsis, the first of its kind. Preliminary data from heterologous transformation of Arabidopsis with a rice gene showing high sequence homology to our Arabidopsis gene indicate large conservation of function across the two proteins, and analysis of the gene in rice itself is also underway.

Using mutants and transgenic lines available in my lab in both Arabidopsis and rice, the aims of the PhD project are to:

  • Further characterize the root and leaf developmental phenotypes controlled by our gene, from organ to cellular levels.
  • Confirm and dissect the involvement of the gene in guard cell signaling.
  • Test the significance of these effects on root function, water loss through stomata, and water use efficiency, under both optimal conditions and drought related abiotic stresses.
  • Investigate the molecular pathways involved in the developmental and stomatal phenotypes and determine whether our gene is directly involved in coordinating them or is acting on them through parallel pathways.
  • Test conservation of function between the Arabidopsis and rice proteins.

This will include, but not be restricted to:

  • Kinetic analysis of cell division and expansion, and organ growth (expanding roots and leaves), using state of the art microscopy (light and fluorescence, including confocal microscopy) and in house techniques enabling live imaging as well as 3D reconstruction of organ structure. And growth.
  • Leaf gas exchange and chorophyll fluorescence measurements; thermal and spectral leaf imaging.
  • Stomatal physiology and signaling experiments .
  • Use of stable isotopes (C and O especially).
  • Transcriptomics (RNASeq) / proteomics analysis of selected mutants and transgenic lines.
  • Pharmalogical, mechanical and genetic manipulations to investigate the role of the gene in linking root and stomatal responses.

Updated:  23 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB