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3D Organ design in plants

Principal Supervisor: Professor George Bassel

Secondary Supervisor(s): Professor Miriam Gifford

University of Registration: University of Warwick

BBSRC Research Themes:

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Deadline: 4 January, 2024

Project Outline

Across evolutionary history, multicellularity has arisen multiple times independently. By having cells co-operate together, multicellular organisms developed adaptive advantages over their unicellular counterparts. The manner with which cells organize themselves to give organs these advantages is not well understood.

This project seeks to understand how cells are organized within the organs of plants. Unlike in animal systems, plant cells do not move relative to one another within organs. This is a key advantage as the associations between cells do not change over time, facilitating the analysis of their relationships.

Using a combination of 3D confocal laser microscopy and computer image analysis, the way cells are connected to one another in plants will be captured. These data will in turn be analysed to reveal the organizing principles of multicellular life. The project will make use of both primitive land plants and more complex plant forms including crop species. In this way the changes in cellular organization that occurred over the course of evolution across to our current agricultural species will be determined.

The project will further develop approaches to re-engineer cell organization in plant organs to create novel plant organs using synthetic biology approaches.

Applicants need no prior experience, just a willingness to learn.


Confocal microscopy, plant growth, 3D computational image analysis, mathematical science.