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Regulation of the Circadian Clock by Sugars

Supervisor: Alex Webb (Plant Sciences)

We previously demonstrated that the circadian clock is very important for the regulation of plant metabolism (Dodd et al. 2005 Science 309, 630 – 633). We recently published that metabolic products of photosynthesis in the form of sugars can entrain the circadian clock (Haydon et al., 2013 Nature 502, 689–692; Dalchau et al., 2011 PNAS 108, 5104 - 5109). We have proposed that sugars and metabolism act to set the circadian clock every morning through regulation of a specific subset of circadian genes.

We now want to understand further the relationship between sugars and the regulation of the circadian clock. You will use a combination of studies in mutant lines and a forward genetic screen to determine how the clock responds to sugars. You will perform a forward genetic screen to identify new genes involved in the sensing of the sugars. Once you have identified the genes you will determine how the gene functions in energy signalling by measuring gene expression using real time PCR and phenotyping mutants. In paralelle you will investigate the regulation and function of the PRR7 gene that we have found to be essential for this response.

This understanding of the physiological role of metabolic-sensing by the clock is an essential step in planning how to produce crop plants that grow faster, are healthier, larger or produce new products, such as biofuels.

More studentships in the Webb lab and background information.