Establishment of germline-specific DNA methylation in plants


Our recent work demonstrated distinctive DNA methylation occurs at hundreds of genes across the entire male germline in plants. This germline-specific methylation is catalysed by a ubiquitous methylation pathway, and regulates meiosis by controlling gene expression and splicing. However, it is unclear how genes become methylated specifically in the germline.

This PhD project aims to uncover the mechanisms underlying methylation reprogramming in plant germlines, and address one of the most fundamental questions in DNA methylation regulation – how specific genes become methylated in specific cells. Using a combination of genetics, molecular and cell biology, pigenetics and genomics, this multidisciplinary work will demonstrate, for the first time, how an epigenetic pathway can be tailored in a specific lineage of cells to convey precise biological functions, laying a foundation for the study of epigenetic regulation of plant development.

Working at the interface of developmental biology and epigenetics, you will greatly benefit from the scientific trainings in both fields. This project involves state-of-the-art techniques of molecular biology, flow cytometry, microscopy, high-throughput sequencing, and bioinformatics (eg. dealing with epigenomic data). You will receive support from a multidisciplinary group funded by ERC and EMBO Young Investigator Programme, and be encouraged and funded to attend conferences.

JIC has a world class PhD training programme, providing not only top infrastructure and academic environment for your research, but also a number of training courses on transferable skills such as project management, presentation and leadership skills to promote your all-around development and employability.