During my masters degree I really enjoyed lectures on plant biology and the genetics underpinning plant development. I did two lab projects during my degree which enabled me to develop a number of skills and cemented my desire to undertake further research in the form of a PhD. The first lab project was in the Wilson lab and involved finding the site of interaction between two proteins involved in motor neurone disease, HNRNPUL1 and FUS. This project taught me many protein based skills which will be useful in my PhD. My second project was in the Casson lab studying whether the transcription factors called Homeodomain Leucine Zipper Class IV are involved in stomatal development in the model plant organism Arabidopsis thaliana. This project was highly enjoyable and I learnt many skills that I can translate to my PhD. I also wrote a literature review while carrying out my second lab project and that review was about how temperature affects plant development which was fascinating and directly related to my PhD. This PhD will enable me to further my skills in a exciting field that could help to make a difference to peoples lives and equip me for a career in research.
Global warming is a challenge that all organisms face and it is having a dramatic effect upon plants and food security. Rice is eaten by around 50% of the world’s population and it has been reported that an increase in night time temperature by around 1 degree Celsius is causing a loss of rice crop yield by around 10% per square area. Increases in night time temperatures are happening at a greater rate than those of day time temperature. Little is known about the molecular pathways underpinning this decrease in seed yield under higher night time temperatures. I aim to determine these molecular pathways and the genes involved by using a number of techniques including qPCR to study gene expression levels, time to flowering, carbon isotope discrimination to determine water use efficiency, time series qPCR and stomatal counts in both Arabidopsis and Rice. Understanding the genetic pathways involved in the reduction of seed yields under high night time temperatures will enable manipulation of these pathways to protect food security.