Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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Raissig0118 - Scientist (f/m) / PhD position
Project no:

Project leader:

Project supervisor:
Raissig, Michael
Application deadline:
31. Jul 2018
Start of PhD project:
1. Sep 2018

Project description:

Development and function of subsidiary cells in grasses
Grasses like the three most important food crops rice, maize and wheat form morphologically innovative, four-celled stomatal complexes that efficiently regulate gas exchange between plant and atmosphere. In the model grass and wheat relative Brachypodium distachyon, the addition of lateral subsidiary cells depends on the mobile transcription factor BdMUTE (Raissig et al. 2017 Science). Mutant bdmute plants fail to recruit subsidiary cells and form functionally impaired, two-celled stomata instead. A transcriptome analysis between wild-type and mutant leaves (with and without subsidiary cells, respectively) yielded several differentially expressed candidate genes potentially associated with subsidiary cell development and/or function. We will use reverse genetic approaches (e.g. CRISPR-based gene editing and use of available mutant collections), construction and analysis of reporter genes and overexpression constructs, and leaf-level gas exchange measurements to determine the candidates’ roles in subsidiary cell formation and function. In addition, we will develop high-resolution time-lapse imaging approaches to study the developing grass epidermis and analyze the dynamics of subsidiary cell recruitment in time and space. More information can be found on
Raissig, M. T., Matos, J. L., Gil, M. X. A., Kornfeld, A., Bettadapur, A., Abrash, E., et al. (2017). Mobile MUTE specifies subsidiary cells to build physiologically improved grass stomata. Science, 355(6330), 1215-1218.

Raissig, M. T., Abrash, E., Bettadapur, A., Vogel, J. P., & Bergmann, D. C. (2016). Grasses use an alternatively wired bHLH transcription factor network to establish stomatal identity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 113(29), 8326-8331.
Methods that will be used:
CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing; molecular cloning of fluorescent reporter and overexpression constructs; light microscopy; (time-lapse) confocal microscopy; gene expression analysis (qRT-PCR, in-situ hybridization); infrared-based, leaf-level gas exchange measurements; grass biotechnology and transformation methods.
Cooperation partners:
Personal qualifications:
We are looking for a talented PhD student with a master's degree in Biology (or equivalent) and a background in developmental, molecular and cell biology. The candidate is enthusiastic about plant and developmental biology, fluent in English, highly motivated, well organized and intellectually independent. Careful and accurate experimentation, thorough documentation of results and the ability to conduct research independently after initial training are expected. Previous experience with plant research is advantageous but not compulsory.

Please apply through or send your application (cover letter, CV, contact details of two references) in a single pdf file directly to
Plant developmental genetics, stomata, subsidiary cells, grasses, molecular biology, microscopy, gas exchange physiology, Brachypodium distachyon.