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Webb Group: Entrainment of the Circadian Oscillator by Sugars by bZIP transcription Factors


Supervisor: Alex Webb (Plant Sciences

Professor Webb is happy to discuss projects in detail with potential applicants.


We have discovered that sugars from photosynthesis can entrain the clock to a metabolic dawn (Haydon et al., 2013 Nature 502, 689–692; Dalchau et al., 2011 PNAS 108, 5104 - 5109). Entrainment is the little understood mechanism by which circadian clocks set time.  We have now discovered the molecular basis by which sugars regulate the circadian clock through stabilisation of GIGANTEA (Haydon et al., 2017 Plant Physiology 175, 947-958) and through bZIP63 regulation of PRR7 expression (Frank et al., 2018 Current Biology 28, 2597-2609). These exciting breakthroughs provide the first molecular pathways for entrainment described in any organism. We now want to understand how bZIP63 is regulated by sugars to control PRR7 expression. This will involve CHIPseq, transcriptomics, phosphoproteomics and genetics studies to understanding of the physiological role of metabolic-sensing by the clock, which is an essential step in planning how to produce crop plants that grow faster, are healthier, larger or produce new products, such as biofuels.




The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.