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Development of new methodologies to enhance phenotypic variation in maize

Principal supervisor: Dr Jose Gutierrez Marcos, School of Life Sciences

Non-academic partner: KWS SAAT SE

Project Title: Development of new methodologies to enhance phenotypic variation in maize

University of registration: University of Warwick

Project outline:

Compared to animals, somatic cells of plants can be much more easily reprogrammed to regenerate whole new organs and, sometimes, entire individuals. This unique biological property has enabled plants to reproduce either sexually or asexually according to their habitat. The ability of plant cells to readily acquire a totipotent state has been attributed to their flexible epigenetic states. As a result, plant totipotency has been traditionally exploited by humans for the clonal propagation and genetic manipulation of economically important species. However, regenerated plants are not always phenotypically identical to their parents, a phenomenon known as somaclonal variation. This form of phenotypic variation has been linked to the accumulation of random genetic mutations and stochastic epigenetic modifications after regeneration; though the precise mechanisms are not well understood. The aim of this project is to develop novel technologies for the targeted manipulation of somaclonal variation to enhance the phenotypic diversity present in elite maize lines.

Closing date: 27th April 2018

Interview date: TBC

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