skip to content

Department of Plant Sciences



Supervisor: Alex Webb (Plant Sciences) (with Professor Jorge Goncalves)

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


We discovered that circadian period is not fixed, but is instead plastic, and can be dynamically adjusted by metabolites such as NAD derivatives (Dodd et al., 2007 Science 318, 1789 -1792) and sugars (Haydon et al., 2013 Nature 502, 689–692). We have identified an entirely new class of circadian mutants that are compromised specifically in the ability to dynamically alter circadian period in response to metabolites. This is an interdisciplinary project that will appeal to a mathematically-trained undergraduate that wishes to transfer their skills to biological problems. The student will model the transcriptional networks in plants adjusting circadian period in response to stimulation, and in our mutant plants in which this response is compromised. To determine how the system changes in response to the metabolite nicotinamide, and the effect of the mutations on systems dynamics, we will use in Control Theory approaches that we have translated to biology in which the Nu gap metric identifies regions of system change (Dalchau et al., 2010 PNAS 107, 13171-13176).