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Live cell imaging of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) signals in plants

Honours in Plant science

Investigate plant stress responses by visualisation of GABA signals in real time using confocal microscopy techniques.

γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a stress-inducible metabolite and is believed to act as a recently discovered stress signal in plants that links metabolism to physiological responses. The speed of the GABA response varies from seconds to a few days; however, it is unclear when and where GABA is stimulated by stress in plants.

A recent discovery of a synthetic GABA fluorescence sensor allows a real time imaging of GABA metabolism at cellular levels in mammals. Here, we express this sensor in plants for the first time.

This project will visualise GABA signals in plants in real time, and is expected to reveal the spatial and temporal regulation of GABA in plants by multiple stresses.   

You will develop skills in:

  • Live cell confocal microscopy imaging
  • Image analysis

Key References:

Gilliham M, & Tyerman SD (2016) Linking metabolism to membrane signaling: the GABA-malate connection. Trends in Plant Science, 21(4), 295-301.

Ramesh SA, Tyerman SD, Gilliham M, & Xu B (2017) γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) signalling in plants. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 74(9), 1577-1603.

Looger LL, Marvin JS, Shimoda Y, Magloire V, Leite M, et al. (2018) A genetically encoded fluorescent sensor for in vivo imaging of GABA. BioRxiv, 322578.



Dr Bo Xu

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 - Matthew Gilliham, Honours projects - Bo Xu

STEM Careers Night: On-campus and online

Whether you're still at high school or planning to join us mid-year, taking a break from study or rethinking your career path, come chat with us at our STEM Careers Night.

You and your parents are invited to join us on campus on Tuesday 18 May to see what’s available in the world of STEM.

STEM Careers Night