Optimization of root growth and development is essential for acclimation and survival of plants in a constantly changing environment. Salinity and nutrient stress impact root architecture by affecting both direction of root growth (tropism) and the degree of root branching (lateral root formation). In this project, we will take two approaches to identify and characterize the key players in modulation of root system architecture (RSA) in response to environmental stress: 1) In an unbiased, genomics approach, we will explore natural variation within Arabidopsis accessions, to identify new loci responsible for the differential developmental responses of natural accessions to salinity and nutrient availability. 2) In a targeted approach, we will investigate the molecular and cellular basis of the function of previously identified salt-activated protein kinases and phopholipid signals in RSA responses. This research will involve genetic and genomics approaches, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and proteomics, as well as confocal microscopical studies. It is part of a larger project that will be carried out in close collaboration with the group of Dr. H-W Xue (CAS, Shanghai, China) and is expected to greatly increase our understanding of modulation of root growth and development under abiotic stress conditions. This project is funded by NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)
The PhD student we are looking for is enthusiastic and ambitious. He/she has an MSc in biology or (bio)chemistry and a strong theoretical and practical background in (plant) molecular biology. Experience with plants, genomics analysis and proteomics/protein biochemistry is highly advantageous. The preferred candidate has the ability to work in a team of international scientists, but can also work independently.