Looking for a PhD candidate in the field of plant evolution and development to assist in carrying out a funded project on the evolution of MADS-domain transcription factors. A four year scholarship will be offered to a highly motivated candidate. Skills that would help to carry out the project are phylogenetic analysis and experience with methods to investigate protein-protein interaction. Would you be so kind to present this opportunity to smart and interested students that wish to pursue a PhD and feel like living in Belgium for a few years? The position is to be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found and candidates can e-mail me for more information. A summary of the planned research is below.With the sequencing of several plant genomes, it has become clear that plant lineages experienced whole genome duplications in their evolutionary history. The exact timing of these duplications is often not known and the evolutionary and functional impact of these duplications is not well investigated. Yet whole genome duplications are thought to be at the origin of the rapid diversification of major plant groups, such as flowering plants and core eudicots.
The expected fate of duplicate genes after whole genome duplications is gene loss of one copy. An important exception are transcription factors. These regulatory genes are preferentially retained, probably because they function in protein complexes. As such, transcription factors can be considered to be excellent witnesses of both the exact timing and the evolutionary and functional impact of whole genome duplications.
The project has two specific aims. First, we will use the evolutionary diversification of MADS-domain transcription factors to trace whole genome duplications. Second, we will resurrect ancestral MADS-box genes using phylogenetic analysis and gene synthesis to understand their diversification at the protein level. Because MADS-domain transcription factors are key regulators of flower development, we believe that the latter strategy can contribute to the understanding of the origin and stepwise diversification of flowers.
Koen Geuten (asst. prof.)
University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven)
Institute of Botany and Microbiology
Laboratory of Plant Systematics
Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, Box 2437
tel. +32 16 32 15 41
fax. +32 16 32 19 55