Thursday, 25 August 2016

Honours and undergrad research opportunities


BABS are currently recruiting the next cohort of Honours students for Semester 1 2017. As usual, the EdwardsLab is looking to recruit enthusiastic students in two main areas:

1. Functional genomics using long-read PacBio sequencing. We are particularly keen to get a student to work on either (a) aspects of our ARC Linkage grant, investigating the evolution of a novel biochemical pathway in yeast, or (b) de novo whole genome sequencing of the cane toad. We also have a number of projects with bacteria for those with a keen interest in microbiology. In each case, the lab is collaborating with experts in the relevant organisms.

2. Applying biological sequence analysis and molecular evolution to study the molecular basis of protein-protein interactions. The main lab software, SLiMSuite has a number of improvements and developments that would benefit from some dedicated attention from a research student. We are also looking for someone who might want to help develop the lab servers.

More details of honours can be found on the BABS website, or please get in touch if you have questions about specific projects. Applications from non-UNSW students are also encouraged.

* BABS are also running an Honours information and networking night on 16th September.*

Summer Vacation Research Scholarships

BABS is once again running its highly successful Summer Vacation Research Scholarship (SVRS) scheme and the EdwardsLab are looking to take on one or two students in the same areas as indicated above.

How to apply

We do not yet have a specific undergraduate application form but it is helpful if you can follow the PhD application process and just make it clear that you are interested in Honours or SVRS. As well as helping select between applicants, this form is also useful for me to make sure that students are assigned an appropriate project.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Plant adaptation or acclimation to rising CO2? Insight from first multigenerational RNA-Seq transcriptome

Watson-Lazowski A, Lin Y, Miglietta F, Edwards RJ, Chapman MA & Taylor G (2016): Plant adaptation or acclimation to rising CO2? Insight from first multigenerational RNA-Seq transcriptome. Glob Chang Biol. Adv. access. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13322


Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ) directly determines the rate of plant photosynthesis and indirectly effects plant productivity and fitness and may therefore act as a selective pressure driving evolution, but evidence to support this contention is sparse. Using Plantago lanceolata L. seed collected from a naturally high CO2 spring and adjacent ambient CO2 control site, we investigated multigenerational response to future, elevated atmospheric CO2 . Plants were grown in either ambient or elevated CO2 (700 μmol mol-1 ), enabling for the first time, characterization of the functional and population genomics of plant acclimation and adaptation to elevated CO2 . This revealed that spring and control plants differed significantly in phenotypic plasticity for traits underpinning fitness including above-ground biomass, leaf size, epidermal cell size and number and stomatal density and index. Gene expression responses to elevated CO2 (acclimation) were modest [33-131 genes differentially expressed (DE)], whilst those between control and spring plants (adaptation) were considerably larger (689-853 DE genes). In contrast, population genomic analysis showed that genetic differentiation between spring and control plants was close to zero, with no fixed differences, suggesting that plants are adapted to their native CO2 environment at the level of gene expression. An unusual phenotype of increased stomatal index in spring but not control plants in elevated CO2 correlated with altered expression of stomatal patterning genes between spring and control plants for three loci (YODA, CDKB1;1 and SCRM2) and between ambient and elevated CO2 for four loci (ER, YODA, MYB88 and BCA1). We propose that the two positive regulators of stomatal number (SCRM2) and CDKB1;1 when upregulated act as key controllers of stomatal adaptation to elevated CO2 . Combined with significant transcriptome reprogramming of photosynthetic and dark respiration and enhanced growth in spring plants, we have identified the potential basis of plant adaptation to high CO2 likely to occur over coming decades.

PMID: 27539677