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Novel aspects of autophagy in plant stress response​: the path to developing better crops


Master's degree project

in plant molecular biology


30-60 HEC

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Ass. Prof. Alyona Minina

Main supervisor

In this project you will help to optimize our non-invasive bioluminescence-based advanced approach for quantifying autophagic activity in different organs of living plants and use it to reveal the specific roles autophagy plays in the stress response of plant organs.

Project goals:

  1. Cloning constructs encoding  novel molecular reporters of plant autophagic activity

  2. Verifying/optimizing the constructs using transient expression in plants and advanced fluorescence microscopy

  3. Initiating stable transgenic lines expressing the new constructs

  4. High-throughput phenotyping of transgenic plant seedlings using our new robotic system SPIRO

You will acquire skills in:

  1. Genetic engineering and cloning

  2. Advanced fluorescence microscopy 

  3. Working with one of the most popular plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana 

  4. Transient expression in plants

  5. Establishing transgenic plant lines

  6. Use of automated assays for plant phenotyping

  7. Working in a research team

Short description

Autophagy is an extremely interesting catabolic pathway that allows cells to upcycle their own content. Similarly to a trash recycling system, autophagy converts damaged or superfluous components into energy and building blocks. In our group we  are investigating how this process helps plants to cope with stress conditions. This knowledge will eventually allow us to improve crops and make them better fitted for the changing climate.

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Detection of plant autophagic activity using non-invasive bioluminescence-based reporter.

Sanjana Holla. 2020. Unpublished.

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