How to build a biological decoder – dissecting calcium specificity in plants

MILLER_UDTP2

Calcium is one of the most common secondary messengers involved in cell signalling in plants. A first response to a vast array of abiotic and biotic stresses includes changes in cytosolic calcium concentrations that regulate downstream processes. That so many processes seem to be governed by the change in the concentration of calcium has given rise to what has been called the calcium specificity problem: how can one ion species be responsible for conveying such diverse developmental processes and differentially active different pathways?

The aim of this PhD project is to develop a deeper understanding of how calcium signals are interpreted by cells and decoded into specific biological responses in plants. The project will focus on a calcium- and calmodulindependent protein kinase (CCaMK) in the model plant Medicago truncatula and will study the mechanism by which CCaMK is regulated by calcium and how this allows the decoding of specific calcium signals.

This project will combine molecular biology, biochemistry and mathematical modelling, and will provide the student with excellent opportunities for multi-disciplinary training in plant molecular genetics, biochemical techniques and synthetic biology, as well as computational modelling approaches.

References:

Kudla et al. (2018) New Phytologist 218:414-431

Miller et al. (2013) Plant Cell 25:5053-5066

Martins et al. (2019) IEEE Transactions on NanoBioscience 18:93-100