Intercellular traffic control: how do plant cells regulate the traffic of molecules between cells...

John Innes Centre
October 04 2017
Life Sciences, Biology
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Plant cells are connected to their neighbours via ‘tubes' called plasmodesmata, creating an interconnected cytoplasm (the symplast) that connects the cytoplasm of cells in the roots to those in the leaves. Small, soluble molecules can freely move within the symplast if the plasmodesmata are open, but plasmodesmata can open and close in response to a range of environmental or developmental signals to control and how far molecules can travel in the plant.

A plasmodesma opens and closes by the turnover (synthesis and degradation) of callose in the cell wall that surrounds it. Many signals trigger the activity of callose synthases and glucanases to control how open plasmodesmata are. This suggests that all the signals converge at one or more core regulators that ultimately control callose synthases and glucanases. We want to identify these core regulators so that we can understand how different signals control plasmodesmata and cell-to-cell connectivity. If we understand how these regulators work, we can optimize and enhance their activity to control the molecular exchange between cells in different contexts. For example, bacterial and viral pathogens try to force the plasmodesmata open during infection - by controlling the plasmodesmal regulators we can enable to plant to fight this process and enhance defence.

This project will take advantage of our understanding of how plasmodesmata respond to different pathogen signals to identify the core regulatory elements of plasmodesmata. The student will use genetics, molecular biology, live cell imaging and protein biochemistry to identify and characterise critical components of plasmodesmata and establish understanding of how intercellular signals are controlled in plants.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding notes

Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa - 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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