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Master of Science - projects


M.Sc. projects in Plant Developmental Genetics


Interested in what a rather simple moss does with genes that regulate 3D growth?

We are trying to understand how a change in gene function is related to changes in gene sequence. And how these changes in sequence and function lead to evolutionary innovations enabling colonization of land by plants. Your project will address the question how a specific class of transcription factors (in model plants) couples cell-cycle control to organ identity. Within this project, you will learn about molecular control of development and molecular evolution of gene sequences, you will employ state-of-the-art methods in the field of transcriptomics, molecular genetics and molecular evolution. Your work will provide a major contribution towards a better understanding of sporophytic complexity and how plants were able to adapt to the lack of water on land.

 

Interested in the conservation of flowering plant gene networks and how we can use them for crop improvement?

One of the main interests of the Becker group is to better understand how novelties emerge during evolution. The possibly most important innovation in higher land plants is the carpel that harbors the ovules and from which almost all our food is ultimately derived. While we know about the interaction of transcription factors and phytohormones that shape the Arabidopsis gynoecium, much less is known about carpel development in other species. Your project will analyze the protein interaction network orchestrating carpel network in species only remotely related to Arabidopsis. You will employ state-of-the-art methods for molecular genetics, molecular evolution, and transcriptomics.   Your results will help identifying highly conserved major regulators of carpel development that can be targeted by breeders for crop improvement.

 

Interested in how changes in chromatin enable phenotypic plasticity??

How does a single genome encode for the different growth modes that a plant can adopt?  When red clover (Trifolium pratense) is eaten up by herbivores or mown it changes to a dwarf-like growth while undisturbed plants grow upright, and it can even revert back! Your M.Sc. project will help elucidate which DNA methylations are related to these developmental changes and by matching methylation patterns with transcriptome data we will better understand how changes in chromatin affect gene transcription in response to massive biomass loss. You will employ state-of-the-art transcriptomics, gene expression, and methylome analysis methods and your results will provide a major contribution towards understanding phenotypic plasticity on a molecular scale.

 

Some funding via HiWi positions is possible for all three projects. We are looking for highly motivated students, if you are interested, please contact: Annette.becker@bot1.bio.uni-giessen.de