Plants flexibly adjust the architecture of their root system to the environmental conditions they find themselves in. With regards to nutrients plants have been shown to optimize acquisition of a single nutrient through stimulating root growth in patches where nutrient levels are high, while repressing growth in places were nutrients are low or absent. Interestingly, the key plant nutrients nitrate and phosphate show disparate spatial distributions in natural soil. Yet how plants forage for both these nutrients simultaneously has so far remained elusive. In our team we aim to decipher how plant root foraging decision making arises from the integration of and feedbacks between local, long distance and systemic nutrient signalling processes and their effects on root developmental processes.
Experimental PhD Position
To further address these questions we are looking for a PhD candidate to work on plant root nutrient foraging in Arabidopsis. In this experimental project a combination of molecular biology (qRT-PCR, transcriptomics), confocal microscopy (single root development) and phenotyping (overall root system architecture growth) approaches will be applied. This experimental project will be performed in close collaboration with a parallel project on developing multi-scale computational models of root foraging behaviour (this Computational PhD position is currently also published on the website of Utrecht University). You will work under the direct supervision of Prof. Kirsten ten Tusscher from the Computational Developmental Biology group and will be co-supervised by Prof. Ronald Pierik from the Plant Ecophysiology group .
Your core tasks will include:
- co-designing, and performing the research outlined above;
- (co-)supervising MSc and BSc students in the lab;
- contributing to teaching of BSc/MSc courses;
- collaborating in an interdisciplinary team of experimental and computational biologists;
- communicating the research through publications, conference presentations and outreach.
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