A 4-year PhD position is open at the Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC), at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Application deadline: 2017-03-31

We are looking for a motivated PhD student to join our team studying wood cell wall formation in trees, from basic science- and application-oriented perspectives. Wood is one of the most promising energy-rich and carbon-rich renewable resources worldwide. To make a better use of wood in smart future applications, the proper understanding of wood cell wall architecture, where hemicelluloses play an essential role, is needed. You will use state of the art molecular and genetic tools to modify xylan in trees, and by doing this, to reveal the molecular organisation of wood cell wall and to improve wood properties.

The work will involve characterization of transgenic aspen lines with altered xylan, including in-depth analysis of their cell walls and their biology, as well as observations of transgenic lines growing in the field. You will obtain training in cell wall analyses, bioinformatics and gene expression analyses.

The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science (EMG), Umeå Plant Science Center (UPSC) and the Swedish Forest Research Institute (Skogforsk) jointly open a 5-year PhD position within the industrial graduate student research school in forest genetics and biotechnology at UPSC. Application deadline is 20th April, 2017.

Umeå University is dedicated to providing creative environments for learning and work. We offer a wide variety of courses and programmes, world leading research, and excellent innovation and collaboration opportunities. More than 4 300 employees and 31 500 students have already chosen Umeå University. We welcome your application!

Project description
The future supply of biomass will come mostly from planted forests. In Sweden, almost all the regeneration material used in pine and spruce reforestation are supplied by tree breeding programs and seed orchards. It is thus critical that seed orchards function well, producing high seed yield and breeding gain but also a genetic base to support increased biomass production and resilience to future conditions.

This project investigates: 1) how seed orchard design and management practices affect the genetic composition and diversity of seed crops; and 2) how seed orchard establishment and seed deployment strategy affect pine and spruce forests´ adaptation and productivity in their northern range.

This project is in close collaboration with Skogforsk. The position is for 5 years and defined as 80% research time at EMG, Umeå University, and 20% at Skogforsk.

Molecular understanding of sugar mediated growth control
The overexpression of bZIP11, a transcription factor involved in the response to sugars, inhibits growth of Arabidopsis seedlings (Hanson et al., 2008). A transcriptomic approach has highlighted genes implicated in primary carbon metabolism as direct transcriptional targets of bZIP11 (Ma et al., 2011).

We recently showed that a mutation in these genes results in a partial to total rescue of the bZIP11 overexpression phenotype and therefore hypothesized that other mutations may as well result in the same rescue. To identify these mutants, an EMS mutagenesis has been performed on the bZIP11 overexpressing line suitable for a suppressor screen.

The aims of this project are to screen the M2 population deriving from this mutagenesis and to further characterize the mutants in physiological and molecular methodology.

Contact: Thomas Dobrenel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Johannes Hanson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)