Exam jobs

Last changed: 03 July 2020

Here you can find exam jobs that we are currently looking for students to carry out. You can also contact us and suggest another topic that relates to our research.

Evolution of developmental processes in plants – from mosses to higher plants
Eva Sundberg and Mattias Thelander 

We are studying basic fundamental processes in the moss Physcomitrella patens and by using knock-out technology and overexpression studies we answer the following questions:

  • Are the same genetic frameworks used for hormonal control in higher and lower plants?
  • What is the ancestral function of the plant hormones auxin and cytokinin?
  • Do the hormones control analogous developmental processes in higher and lower plants?
  • Are higher plant-specific inventions, such as meristems and vascular systems related by descent to seemingly analogous functions in moss?

Genetic and hormonal regulation of fruit development
Eva Sundberg and Jens Sundström

Although a large number of genes regulating fruit development have been discovered, there are still significant gaps in our understanding of the coordinated development of differentiated fruit tissues. We aim at elucidating some of the fruit regulatory networks, with specific emphasis on positioning potential coordinators, such as the plant hormone auxin in the networks. We will screen from interacting partners to known fruit regulators and look for upstream transcription factors using ChIP in inducible systems.

Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Christina Dixelius

Please do not hesitate to contact me for discussion of extent of the lab work and literature reviews, choice of subareas and other issues.

Prevalence of L. maculans on winter oilseed rape

This project is initiated by the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) and will be performed in collaboration with them. The question on the prevalence of the blackleg fungus Leptosphaeria maculans in southern Sweden has turned up again. Twenty years since last time. There are speculations on a combination of introduction of new cultivars with less resistance in combination of climate change effects as the underlying explanations. We have never had access to such wealth of genomic information as we do have today, both on plant pathogens and on crop plants. In order to address the question on L. maculans and possible species to mix it up with by phenotypic scorings, we will run molecular analysis on collected leaf materials with disease lesions to start with. The extent of the work can be discussed. An extensive literature review is required as part of the work.

Red clover, root pathogens and N-fixation

Red clover (Trifolium pretense), a perennial legume species used as forage crop is the most important legume in Sweden. Since red clover is expected to generate yields for three years, two or three harvests per year, it comes problematic when the red clover plants disappears, i.e. they have low persistence. Our overall aim of the work on red clover is to make it possible to prolong their resistance and thereby prolong the growth period. The problem behind the plant losses is thought to be soil-borne pathogens. The student project can be divided into different research questions: 1. Take part in development of a trustful but fast selection procedure under control conditions .2. Score responses of selected red clover cultivars to selected pathogens, single and in combinations. 3. Include timothy in the analysis. 4. Start analyzing expression of N-fixation genes in red clover. Do they decline during root infection? The work briefly describe will be a combination of phenotype interactions as well as quantifications of pathogen growth using molecular tools. The extent of the studies can be discussed. (Can be divided into more than 1 piece of work). An extensive literature review is required as part of the work.

Potato and P. infestans

Our research group has a long history of analysis of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans and its interaction with potato. This work has en emphasis on small non-coding RNA.
Presently we do have a smaller potato population potentially harboring empty vector T-DNA. Here we want to know: 1. If the plants are transformed. If yes, how many inserts? 2. Do the response to P. infestans differ in these plants compared to wild-type plants. The project is well delimited but require a literature review on potato transformation and the phenomenon of somatic variation.

Genome editing – CRISPR/Cas9 on Brassica napus

We have started to apply genome editing on oilseed rape. The method sounds easy but there are a number of steps in the procedures that needs improvements. Thus, we have several sub-projects to select between. If you are interested of this technology, communicate with us so we could identify something of joint interest.

Beneficial plant-microbe interactions
Johan Meijer

Plants are exposed to various forms of stress that hamper growth and yield. We are exploring beneficial bacteria to support growth and improve stress management of plants. These bacteria seem to stimulate the plant through growth promotion as well as priming of induced systemic resistance (ISR) and induced systemic tolerance (IST) to biotic and abiotic stress, respectively. We are using Bacillus amyloliquefasciens strains and interested in mechanisms of plant colonization, growth promotion, priming and stress tolerance in order to support durable plant protection and replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Plant root exudates shape the rhizosphere microbiota and it is of interest to identify compounds involved. Analysis of genotype variation is one tool to identify candidate genes for further studies. Another aspect is how plants can differentiate between beneficial and pathogenic bacteria. Functional genomics is used to define the role of various metabolites and genes in this system. The exam project will address various aspects of beneficial plant-microbe interactions.

Molecular epidemiology of plant-infecting viruses
Anders Kvarnheden

Viruses are important pathogens on many crops, and they are also common in natural plant populations. Using molecular tools, we study the molecular epidemiology of plant viruses. The aim is to determine the genetic diversity of selected plant viruses, and to find the factors influencing the composition of virus populations and host specificity. Our projects focus on geminiviruses, which are emerging as serious plant pathogens worldwide, and viruses of importance for Swedish agriculture. The crops we work with include wheat, oats, potato, sugar beet, tomato, okra and cotton. An exam project can also be carried out as a Minor Field Study (MFS) in a developing country or in collaboration with a company/authority.

Varför blir potatisknölar giftiga ibland? /  Why do potato tubers sometimes become toxic?
Folke Sitbon

Potatis innehåller låga halter av giftiga ämnen som kallas glykoalkaloider. Glykoalkaloider finns i hela växten, och halterna är särskilt höga i frökapslar och unga skott. I vanliga fall utgör halten av glykoalkaloider inte något problem för att utnyttja potatisknölen som föda. Men olika former av stress, tex. ljus och skada, kan öka glykoalkaloidhalten avsevärt och göra knölen olämplig eller farlig att äta. Man vet idag ganska litet om hur glykoalkaloiderna bildas, men steroler anses vara troliga förstadium. Inom projektet vill vi med molekylärgenetiska och biokemiska metoder förklara bl.a. hur steroler och glykoalkaloider bildas, vilka gener som samspelar, och varför olika potatissorter varierar i sin stresskänslighet. Vi söker här en examensarbetare som kan hjälpa oss en bit på vägen. 

Potato contains low levels of toxic substances, the glycoalkaloids. The glycoalkaloid level in tubers is normally low, but certain post-harvest stresses, such as light exposure and wounding, can increase levels significantly. Such stresses may render tubers usuitable, or even dangerous, for consumption. The biosynthesis of glycoalkaloids is largely unknown, but sterols are considered as main precursors. The project combines methods within molecular biology and biochemistry to explain how sterols and glycoalkaloids are made, the genes that are important, and why potato cultivars differ in their stress sensitivity. We are here looking for a student who can help us along this way.


Contact

bjorn.nicander@slu.se, 018-673309

Page editor: christian.divander@slu.se