Dissecting calcium signalling in basal land plants

MILLER_UDTP1

Plants need to respond to the environment in order to adapt and grow. Plants often modify the concentration of calcium ions in their cells in response to different environmental stimuli and stresses [1]. These changes in cellular calcium concentration trigger many downstream responses, including re-programming of gene expression. Calcium signalling pathways are therefore essential for plants to respond and adapt to environmental stimuli and stresses.

Higher plants, such as the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, have extensive networks of proteins associated with calcium signalling pathways, and traditional genetic studies have identified mutants in components of these pathways. However, genetic redundancy is often observed and this has hindered further study of these signalling pathways. Recent genomic analyses have revealed that the gene families encoding components of calcium signalling pathways are considerably smaller in basal land plant species, e.g. the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha [3]. The study of these pathways in basal land plants will therefore offer unique insights and understandings into calcium signalling pathways in higher plants, and may identify new potential targets that could be manipulated to improve stress tolerance in crop species.

This PhD project will undertake a multi-disciplinary approach combining molecular genetics, computational analyses and biochemistry to dissect calcium signalling in the basal land plant Marchantia polymorpha.

References:

Tang et al. (2020) Trends in Plant Sci 25:604-17

Bender et al. (2018) Biochemical J 475:207-23

Edel & Kudla (2015) Cell Calcium 57:231-46