A major challenge in developmental biology is to identify the genetic changes that lead to the evolution of animal and plant species with a wide variety of morphologies. Higher plant species develop solitary flowers or complex inflorescences with many flowers arranged in an array of different patterns. The genetic control of the development of racemose inflorescences has been well studied in Arabidopsis. Nightshades such as petunia and tomato generate inflorescences with a distinct cymose architecture. Genetic experiments identified a gene known as EVERGREEN in petunia and COMPOUND INFLORESCENCE in tomato that is essential and unique for cymes. EVG encodes a homeodomain transcription factor and is derived by gene duplication from a widely conserved ancestral gene that is important for establishing developmental patterns in embryos. To unravel the role of EVG in the development and evolution of cymose inflorescences we will initiate two projects: PhD project 1 aims to unravel how the expression pattern of EVG and thereby its role in development diverged from that of the ancestral gene and by which upstream factors it is now regulated; PhD project 2 aims to identify downstream genes that are activated or repressed by EVG and to understand how EVG controls the formation of flowers and the expression of floral meristem identity genes in a non-cell autonomous way
– candidates should have an MSc (drs, ir) in Biology, Biotechnology, Biomedical Sciences or related disciplines; – research experience within the field of Molecular Genetics; – basic knowledge of laboratory procedures and practical experience with DNA and/or protein techniques; – fluency in oral and written English; – good social and communication skills.