PHD Student no. 36/2022/ICHB/PSD

Updated: 4 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 15 Sep 2022

KEY WORDS: MFT protein, Medicago truncatula, seed germination, abscisic acid, protein-protein interaction

Principal Investigator: dr Joanna Banasiak

Research topic: Role of MFT protein in hormonal signal integration during Medicago truncatula seed germination.

I. Project description

The transition from seed to seedling is a crucial developmental switch in the life cycle of plant. Thus, it is tightly regulated by a complex of hormonal networks. One of the components of hormonal signalling pathways recruited to control seed germination is MOTHER OF FT AND TFL1 (MFT). The MFT from Arabidopsis was found to promote germination of after-ripened seeds under unfavorable conditions by tuning seed sensitivity to ABA and regulating the expression of germination-related genes. MFT protein was also proposed to be an important factor in dormancy promotion in freshly maturated dormant seeds. However, this issue was not fully addressed and still requires clarification. Thus further studies are necessary to recognize an exact MFT mode of action to explain this phenomenon. Given the economic importance of legumes, we propose to perform a comprehensive functional analysis of MFT in model legume Medicago truncatula (barrel medic), which has great potential for translational biology.

Of note, MFT-like protein is a member of the phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein (PEBP) family and is recognized as ancestral to well-explored FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT)-like, and TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1)-like proteins. The latter control flowering timing and function as transcription regulators that interact with other proteins. MFT proteins similarly to FT and TFL1 do not contain any typical DNA binding domain, and possibly require interactions with transcription factors (TFs) to modulate the expression of target genes, during seed germination. Although the potential interactions of MFT with other proteins were suggested, its partners have not yet been identified. Therefore, we are going to use several complementary methods to determine interactor(s) of MtMFT in two biological scenarios (dormant and non-dormant seeds).

To summarize, in this project, we would like to answer the question of whether MtMFT can interact with different TFs/regulatory proteins depending on seed status (freshly-maturated, after-ripened), and as such modulates the expression of different target genes in dormant and nondormant seeds, therefore changing their sensitivity to ABA. This could be a milestone for a better understanding of the MFT-mediated sensitivity to ABA and its altering during the after-ripening process.

Additional information:

  • Research and doctoral theses shall be carried out within the OPUS-22 (2021/43/B/NZ3/00672), entitled “New mechanisms determining MFT-mediated sensitivity to abscisic acid during the germination of Medicago truncatula seeds”, funded by National Science Center.
  • PhD students shall receive a stipend in the gross amount of ca. 4300 PLN (3800 PLN net), for the period of 34 months with possible extension
  • PhD students shall be subject to social insurance, pursuant to article. 6 section 1 passage 7b of the act of October 13th, 1998 on the social insurance system (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 300, 303 and 730).

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