Determining how widespread dimethylsulfoniopropionate production is in plants

MILLER_U23DTP3

Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is an anti-stress compound with key roles in global nutrient and sulfur cycling, signalling and climate.

DMSP functions as an osmoprotectant, cryoprotectant, protectant against oxidative stress and a grazing deterrent in bacteria and marina algae.

Few plants have been shown to produce DMSP and the role of this molecule in these species is unclear. However, we have recently discovered the key plant genes responsible for DMSP production and are therefore now able to determine the role of DMSP in plants.

This project will investigate how widespread DMSP production is in plants.

The student will use molecular and physiological approaches to understand the role of DMSP in plant stress tolerance and seed biology.

The student will identify DMSP synthesis genes in different plants and test their function using different biochemical and analytical techniques, such as gas chromatography and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

The student will also measure expression of the genes in plants grown under different conditions using qRT-PCR.

In the modern world, the ability to produce crops in sub-optimal saline/drought ridden environments, not currently suitable for agriculture, is of high importance.

The student will spend time at both UEA and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to undertake this joint project, and have opportunities to attend international and national conferences.

This joint project will provide the student with training opportunities in plant stress physiology, seed biology, DMSP biochemistry and molecular genetics to determine the role of DMSP in different plants.

References

Peng et al. (2022) Nat Comm doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30491-5.

Otte et al. (2004) J Exp Bot doi:10.1093/jxb/erh178.

Seal et al. (2018) Env Exp Bot doi:10.1016/j.envexpbot.2018.06.035.