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Metabolic Signalling into the Circadian System

Drought confers a multifaceted stress upon plants, but one of the first metabolic consequences is the perturbation of photosynthesis, leading to increased accumulation of ROS and the subsequent development of redox stress within the chloroplast. These perturbations are communicated from organelles to the nucleus via multiple retrograde signaling pathways that alter nuclear gene expression, allowing plants to adjust their metabolism and development to tolerate environmental stress. 3'-PhosphoAdenosine 5'-Phosphate (PAP) is one such redox stress-induced metabolite that accumulates in response to drought and osmotic stress. The accumulation of PAP inhibits the activity of exoribonucleases (XRNs), leading to altered gene expression and increased transcript stability. The PAP/XRN pathway is therefore able to induce changes in nuclear transcript stability in response to redox stress in the chloroplast.

The circadian system induces rhythmic expression of approximately one third of a plant’s genome but we do not have a precise understanding of how changes in metabolism (such as those induced by stress) alter the pace of the endogenous biological timer. This BBSRC-funded project will explore how the PAP/XRN pathway alters circadian timing. The successful applicants will investigate the complex interplay between environmental signals, endogenous biological timers, and metabolic changes induced by osmotic stress. We will use a combination of metabolomics, high throughput sequencing (RNAseq), and circadian imaging to test our hypotheses.

We have two positions available; 1 postdoc (3 years, full time) and 1 technician (3 years, 0.5 time). Informal enquiries are welcomed: contact me

Further information, and links to the formal application forms, can be found on the respective Postdoc or technician application pages.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

At Essex we're developing synthetic light switches to allow genes to be activated by specific wavelengths of light. Come help us design, construct and test these switches in E. coli before we integrate them into more complicated systems!

For more information and for details of how to apply please contact me or visit the University of Essex UROP website.