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Exploring the function of MADS-box genes in barley inflorescence development


Learn about functional gene research combined with molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and developmental biology

The barley inflorescence is a single spike, where spikelets with single florets develop on the main stem. To understand the molecular control of barley spike and spikelet formation, we are conducting research using known genes from model plants such as Arabidopsis and rice as guidance.

The MADS-box gene family is important in inflorescence development in many plants, most notably in the ABC model of floral organ development in Arabidopsis.  In this project we will study the expression and function of these E-class MADS-box genes in barley. We start with mutants and overexpression lines, and study the effects on inflorescence development, both in mature plants and the developing inflorescence meristem. To find their function we need an expression profile of each gene and since the function of MADS-box proteins is often achieved by forming complexes, we will identify interaction partners of the E-class genes.

This honours project will involve in both the MADS box genes’ expression and regulatory network in morphogenesis and development of inflorescence and spikelet of barley at SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) & UoA Joint Laboratory for Plant Sciences and breeding. In summary, this project will ideally suit an enthusiastic student who is interested in learning more about functional gene research combined with molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and developmental biology.

You will develop skills in:

  • Molecular techniques including genomic DNA and RNA extraction, PCR techniques, qRT-PCR performance and fusion vector construction, CRISPR-Cas9
  • Bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay (BiFC), and Yeast-two-hybrid
  • Cellular biological skills, such as, confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM), immunolocalization and in situ hybridization
  • Competency with ‘in silico’ gene and RNA-seq analysis using a variety of bioinformatics tools
  • Data analysis, interpretation and reporting, evaluation of the literature and scientific writing

Key References:
Zhang, DB., and Yuan, Z. Annu. Rev. of Plant Biol. 2014, 65:553-78.


Tagged in Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Gang Li, Honours projects - Dabing Zhang, Honours projects - Agricultural science