PhD studentship – How does circadian regulation increase water-use efficiency? Faculty of Science

The project:

Circadian rhythms in plants increase photosynthesis and water use efficiency (Dodd et al. Science 2005). The mechanisms underlying the circadian optimization of water use efficiency are unknown. This project will address this question using Arabidopsis-based model system research. This question is important for future food security, because a research priority is to develop productive crops that use less water (Royal Society, 2009). The PhD student will:

1. Produce a toolkit of transgenic plants that are designed to understand the relationship between circadian regulation and WUE.

2. Position circadian oscillator components within the daily regulation of stomatal opening and identify oscillator components that optimize WUE. Circadian regulation of stomatal opening, transpiration and photosynthesis will be investigated using the toolkit described, and take advantage of the new Wolfson Photosynthesis Suite at the University of Bristol.

3. Using their data, the student will use mathematical modelling to approximate the control relationship between the circadian clock and water use efficiency.

4. Predictions from mathematical modelling will be used to form hypotheses concerning oscillator states that determine specific WUE outcomes. These will be tested with experimental manipulations to oscillator and environment.

Training will be provided in (i) molecular cloning and production of transgenic plants for experimental purposes, experimental design/analysis and stomatal physiology, (ii) plant physiology (this is important: BBSRC and Universities must reverse the decline in plant physiology training to build capacity for development of next-generation crops (Royal Society, 2009)), (iii) mathematical modelling approaches that are relevant to this project.

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This PhD will be based within the new Life Sciences Building at the University of Bristol. The University is investing £54 million in an iconic new building, due to open in 2014, that will form a research hub for interdisciplinary research, facilitating major advances across the sciences. Crucially, this includes new investment and expansion in the plant sciences is forming an essential part of the School of Biological Sciences.

Candidate requirements:

Potential applicants should contact Dr Antony Dodd directly to discuss suitability. Only outstanding candidates will be considered (a first class degree is essential and masters degree is preferable, but exceptions can be made). Due to funding restrictions, only UK and other EU nationals are eligible (EU nationals must have resided in the UK for three years, not as a student, before commencing the studentship).

Funding: Funding for this project is available competitively through the BBSRC-funded South-West Doctoral Training Partnership. More information concerning this scheme is here:

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project via the ‘Apply’ button below, following the instructions for how to apply at

Contacts: Antony Dodd (

Deadline for applications: 10 January 2014

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