PhD in the field of plant evolution and development


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
BE-3001 Leuven
tel.  +32 16 32 15 41
fax. +32 16 32 19 55

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