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27 / 09 / 2018

Turning up the heat to crack the genetics of Brassica fruit development (OSTERGAARD_J19DTP)

how to apply

Flowering plants (Angiosperms) evolved >100 million years ago and today make up >90% of all plants on Earth. One of the main reasons for their incredible success is the formation of fruits in the centre of the flowers that function to nurture and protect the seeds inside and mediate their timely dispersal upon maturation. While efficient seed dispersal is essential for success of the next generation in the wild, many crop plants have undergone strong selection to prevent dispersal of their seed. However, for young crops such as oilseed rape, premature and unsynchronised seed dispersal is a huge problem leading to significant yield losses.

Oilseed rape belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with the model plant, Arabidopsis that disperse their seeds by a process known as pod shatter. We have established that pod shatter in oilseed rape and other Brassicaceae is accelerated at higher temperatures. In view of climate change, this may have serious implications for the future of oilseed rape production. We have begun to dissect the molecular mechanism by which this takes place. This project will drill down into the gene regulatory processes affected by temperature at the chromatin and gene expression level in oilseed rape, taking advantage of unique genetic resources available in the lab.

The successful candidate will join a lab driven by a fundamental curiosity to understand plant development. At the same time, we are keen to identify routes to translate our discoveries for crop improvement. This project is aligned with a large collaborative programme called BRAVO aimed at understanding the genetic networks underlying reproductive development in oilseed rape and vegetable Brassicas providing opportunities for interactions with both the scientific and industry partners.