Mike Haydon

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Dr. Mike Haydon

(Former)

PhD opportunities

Carbon metabolism is a fundamental biological process providing energy and the molecular building blocks for life. In plants, sugars are produced from photosynthesis in a light-dependent manner. Photosynthesis is probably the most important metabolic process on the planet, providing the fixed carbon and oxygen to sustain life over the last 2.5 billion years. In addition to the role in energy storage, sugars have hormone-like properties in plants that regulate growth and developmental processes such as flowering time, affect pathogen sensitivity, and contribute to cell cycle progression and circadian entrainment. Understanding sugar sensing and signalling is a fundamental question in plant biology that has broad implications for improving agricultural efficiency and crop yields.

The light-dependence of sugar production in photosynthetic organisms adds complexity to sugar signalling pathways in plants. This project builds on recently published work, which identified a new role for photosynthetically-derived sugars in circadian entrainment in Arabidopsis (Haydon et al., 2013 Nature). From this work, an assay has been developed to investigate sugar responses in plants in isolation of light signalling, thus allowing interrogation of plant sugar signalling in a new context. Mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana have been identified that have an altered response to sugars and additional sugar-related developmental phenotypes. This project will set out to extensively characterise physiological and molecular phenotypes in selected mutants while varying sugar availability by manipulating growth conditions to alter light conditions and photosynthetic efficiency. The student will proceed to map the underlying mutations and utilise state-of-the-art molecular tools for functional characterisation of the gene-products. The ultimate goal will be to understand the contribution of sugar signalling pathways in plants in the context of light-dependent production of sugars. Better understanding of carbohydrate metabolism in plants has broad potential to improve agricultural efficiency for food and biofuel production.

How to apply: http://www.york.ac.uk/biology/postgraduate/dtpbbsrc/#tab-4

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