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Identification of components of the nitric oxide signalling pathway in Arabidopsis

Supervisor: Alex Webb (Plant Sciences)

The Webb laboratory investigates signalling networks associated with the circadian clock (Dodd et al. 2005 Science 309, 630 – 633; Haydon et al., 2013 Nature 502, 689–692; Dalchau et al., 2011 PNAS 108, 5104 - 5109). We proposed that the signalling molecule cADPR forms a non-transcriptional loop of the circadian clock of Arabidopsis (Dodd et al., 2007 Science 318, 1789 – 1791).

As part of these studies we found that cADPR levels are increased by the gaseous hormone nitric oxide (NO) (Abdul-Awal et al. (2016) Plant Physiology). However the basic mechanisms by which NO is perceived and how NO regulates calcium-based signalling pathways are unknown.

The goal of this project is to revolutionise our understanding of the mechanisms by which NO regulates calcium signalling in plants through a mutant screen to identify the enzymes and channels that contribute to NO-mediated increases in cytosolic-free calcium. A mutagenised population of seeds carrying the calcium reporter aequorin will be used to identify mutants with altered ability of NO to induce calcium signals. Next generation sequencing and Shoremap will be used to identify responsible the genetic loci. These are approaches used regularly in our laboratory. Further characterisation will depend on the nature of the mutation but it is expected you determine the role of at least one key protein in the NO signalling pathway. This project has the potential to identify major players in an important signalling hub.

More studentships in the Webb lab and background information.