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Thea Kongsted

Postgraduate Student
Thea Kongsted
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 333934; 330212


Thea joined the lab in 2019 as a postgraduate student funded through the NERC C-CLEAR Doctoral Training Partnership.

Previously, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh gaining a BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Plant Science). Over the summer while an undergraduate, she undertook a Sainsbury Undergraduate Studentship funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation in Prof. Liam Dolan's lab at the University of Oxford, investigating a microtubule-dependent mechanism for growth point stability in tip growing cells, using Marchantia polymorpha rhizoid development mutants. She carried out her undergraduate Honours Research Project at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh within Dr. Catherine Kidner’s group, where she identified a link between variation in repetitive genomic elements and reproductive barriers within a species of the species-rich genus Begonia

Research Interests

Thea's major research interests are within evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) and the possibilities opened up by the recent diversification of available genetically tractable model organisms across phylogenies. She is particularly curious about the evolution of major developmental innovations in land plants.

Her PhD project aims to elucidate the evolution of the MYB-bHLH-WDR (MBW) transcriptional complex. In model angiosperms, MBW complexes regulate multiple aspects of epidermal cell differentiation, including flavonoid pigmentation and the patterning of trichomes and root hairs. Since these regulatory complexes have not yet been well characterised in a wider phylogenetic context, we have a poor understanding of how this functional diversity evolved. By employing gene phylogenetics and comparative molecular genetic work with model plants, her work will pinpoint the origin of the MBW complex and identify mechanisms for the evolution of new functions as new epidermal cell features have evolved.

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