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Plant geometry - the biophysical and molecular basis of gravitropism and growth angle control


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 6 April 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Competition funded
Source of funding
Research council
Professor Netta Cohen and Dr Stefan Kepinski
School of Biology
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Gravitropism is a fundamental process in the control of plant architecture, which ensures that shoots typically grow up and roots down, allowing light interception and gas exchange above ground and water and nutrient uptake below. These processes of resource capture are enhanced enormously by the production of lateral root and shoot branches that are maintained with respect to gravity rather than the main root-shoot axis from which they arise. For this reason, understanding gravitropism and growth angle control in lateral root and shoot branch growth angle has become focus in efforts to develop crop varieties for lower-input, net zero carbon agriculture. Despite the central importance of gravitropic response, the underlying biophysical and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism are still relatively poorly understood. Recent discoveries in the Kepinski and Cohen groups at the University of Leeds have provided a new way to approach this fascinating question. Using new mutants, proteomics, and state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including vertical-stage confocal microscopy and machine learning-based imaging analysis, this project will allow you to explore the biophysical and molecular basis of the perception of gravity and the ensuing gravitropic response. The project will involve collaboration with physicists and mathematical modellers and is therefore an exciting opportunity to make important discoveries in plant biology while at the same time receiving a training that is truly interdisciplinary.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &ldquo;Plant geometry - the biophysical and molecular basis of gravitropism and growth angle control&rdquo; as well as&nbsp;Dr Stefan Kepinski&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>White Rose BBSRC DTP in Mechanistic Biology&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2020:&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Research Council Stipend&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;UK/EU Tuition Fees&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Conference and research funding&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;Requirements:&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency to receive full studentship&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;The DTP will appoint a number of candidates via a competitive process.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Stefan Kepinski ( to discuss the project.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 343 8186</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>