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Sainsbury funded PhD studentship available: The evolution of plant body plans

Posted by , on 17 December 2015

Closing Date: 15 March 2021

The conquest of land by plants over 450 million years ago was one of the most significant events in our planet’s history, and was underpinned by a series of key innovations in plant architecture during evolution (1).

Our group aims to identify the developmental and genetic basis of two such innovations, three dimensional shoot growth and branching (2, 3) in a range of model systems representing different stages of plant evolution.

Our recently published work reports mutants with disrupted branching patterns in a moss (3-6) and ongoing work has identified mutations that disrupt 3D growth.

Your project will build on these advances to identify molecular determinants of body plan in early diverging land plant lineages.

For further information please see the Harrison lab web page ( or contact Dr Harrison directly to discuss your ideas (

After discussion, applicants should be prepared to supply a 2-page research proposal, a CV and an academic transcript including the names of three referees.

The deadline is January 20th 2016.

International students are welcome to apply.

Further information:


Nature jobs

Further Reading:

[1] Pires and Dolan (2012). Morphological evolution in land plants: new designs with old genes. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. 367: 508-518.

[2] Olsen et al 2015 DEK1; missing piece in puzzle of plant development Trends in Plant Science 20: 70-71.

[3] Harrison CJ. 2015. Shooting through time: new insights from transcriptomic data. Trends in Plant Science. DOI:10.1016/j.tplants.2015.06.003.

[4] Coudert YN, Palubicki W, Ljung K, Leyser O, and Harrison CJ. Three ancient hormone pathways regulate shoot branching in a moss. eLife 4 e06808.

[5] Bennett et al. (2014a). Plasma membrane targeted PIN proteins regulate shoot development in a moss. Current Biology 24: 1-10.

[6] Bennett et al. (2014b). Paralogous radiations of PIN proteins with multiple origins of non-canonical PIN structure. Molecular Biology and Evolution (doi:molbev.msu147).

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