Quantitative study of the floral transition at cellular resolution

Supervision: The project will be supervised by Pau Formosa-Jordan at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

Abstract: During the floral transition in Arabidopsis thaliana, the shoot apical meristem (SAM), which is the tissue that produces the plant aerial organs, undergoes a dramatic morphological change from a flat to a domed structure. Several studies have deciphered gene regulatory processes controlling this transition, but how the doming process occurs at the cellular level remains poorly understood. This PhD project aims to understand how cellular growth and division contribute to this morphological transition. To address this question, the project will first establish a 3D quantitative description of the SAM at different stages of the floral transition from confocal images with cellular resolution. Then, through a combination of time-lapse confocal microscopy, quantitative image analysis and computational modelling, it will investigate how cell growth and cell cycle within the meristem are regulated throughout the floral transition, and how they impact on the internal cellular organisation of the meristem and the doming process. This PhD position would suit motivated students willing to combine computational and experimental work, and who have a quantitative background such as physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, systems biology, quantitative biology or similar discipline. Some previous experience in computer programming is desired. 

Key publication: Kinoshita, A., Vayssières, A., Richter, R., Sang, Q., Roggen, A., van Driel, A. D., ... & Coupland, G. (2020). Regulation of shoot meristem shape by photoperiodic signaling and phytohormones during floral induction of Arabidopsis. eLife, 9, e60661.

Link to the Formosa-Jordan group homepage: https://www.mpipz.mpg.de/formosa

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