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Improving drought tolerance by turgor regulation of guard cells

Science student Sophie

Investigate guard cell function to inform breeding strategies for more drought tolerant crops.

Many processes in plants depend on regulated gas exchange between leaves and the atmosphere; CO2 uptake and O2 release during the day, transpiration of H2O to maintain nutrient supply to the shoot. Guard cells are specialised cells in the leaf epidermis; which regulate the size of the stomata pore.

In this project, we will investigate the importance of the CCC protein in guard cells of the model plant Arabidopsis and the crop plant rice. CCC has been shown to impact osmoregulation, and it might therefore play a vital role in guard cell turgor regulation. The results from this project will contribute in informing breeding strategies for more drought tolerant crops; and enhance our overall knowledge on osmoregulation in cells.

You will develop skills in:

  • Bright field microscopy - stomata aperture measurements
  • Laser scanning confocal microscopy -  investigating protein movements and cytoskeleton re-arrangements in guard cells
  • Image analysis software – from image to data
  • RNA, cDNA preparation, Q-PCR – guard cell specific gene expression

Key References:
Henderson, SW, Wege, S. and Gilliham, M. 2018. Plant cation-chloride cotransporters (CCC): evolutionary origins and functional insights. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19, 492. doi.org/10.3390/ijms19020492

Assman, SM and Jegler, T. 2016. Guard cell sensory systems: recent insights on stomatal responses to light, abscisic acid, and CO2. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 33:157–167. doi.org/10.1016/j.pbi.2016.07.003

Dr Stefanie Wege


Dr Stefanie Wege

Co supervisorProfessor Matthew Gilliham

Research area: Plant biology and biochemistry

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Plant Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Stefanie Wege, Honours projects - Matthew Gilliham