Environmental regulation of gene expression in plants


Understanding the responses of plants to their fluctuating environments is crucial to developing the next generation of climate change-resilient crops. This project will contribute to that goal by performing fundamental studies of the regulation of gene expression in plants in response to environmental cues. You will focus on a group of proteins called sigma factors that regulate gene transcription in response to circadian rhythms and environmental signals such as light, temperature and abiotic stress. These proteins are required for adaptation of plants to their fluctuating
environments. The project will focus on these responses at a genome-wide scale, using high throughput sequencing approaches, studies of stimulus-response coupling, and cell imaging.

The project will suit applicants with interests in the molecular biology of gene regulation, plant environmental signalling, responses and environmental adaptation, and molecular genetics. It will also contain a significant bioinformatic component that includes training and investigation using computational analysis of sequencing data. The project will use Arabidopsis as an experimental model, so that the science can be performed rapidly. The project has the potential to make significant breakthroughs in understanding the roles of an evolutionarily conserved group of proteins, called sigma factors, in the regulation of the responses of plants to environmental cues and abiotic stress.


Noordally ZB, Ishii K, Atkins KA, Wetherill SJ, Kusakina J, Walton E, Kato M, Azuma M, Tanaka K, Hanaoka M, Dodd AN (2013). Circadian control of chloroplast transcription by a nuclear-encoded timing signal. Science 339, 1316-1319.

Belbin FE, Noordally ZB, Wetherill SJ, Atkina KA, Franklin KA, Dodd AN (2016). Integration of light and circadian signals that regulate chloroplast transcription by a nuclear-encoded sigma factor. New Phytologist 213, 727-738.

Frank A, Matiolli CC, Viana AJC, Hearn TJ, Kusakina J, Belbin FE, Newman DW, Yochikawa A, Cano- Ramirez DL, Chembath A, Cragg-Barber K, Haydon MJ, Hotta CT, Vincentz M, Webb AAR, Dodd AN (2018). Circadian entrainment in Arabidopsis by the sugar-responsive transcription factor bZIP63. Current Biology 28, 2597-2606.