Thursday, 6 June 2019

Early bird FASEB registration closing

Early bird registration for the FASEB Mechanisms in Plant Development Meeting that Ken Birnbaum and I are organising closes next wednesday. We're really excited about meeting the great line up of speakers and attendees who have already registered, and looking forward to seeing you all. 
For those of you who haven't been before, the meeting will include about 150 researchers from around the world presenting cutting edge research on cellular specialization, signaling and crosstalk, developmental plasticity, tissue patterning and maintaining indeterminate growth. We have arranged the sessions by conceptual themes to enable us to showcase research from a wide range of plant species in parallel, and these will range from early land plants such as liverworts and mosses to flowering plants. We hope that this will stimulate reciprocal knowledge transfer about plant development across the plant kingdom. Developmental biology has of course played a huge role in crop domestication and yield, and the meeting will also include talks in this area.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Current Opinion in Plant Biology special issue out

The special issue that Adrienne Roeder and I have been editing together is now complete and our editorial overview is online here. Many thanks to all the authors and reviewers who have contributed to the issue, the papers look great! You can read all the papers here.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Bristol GARNet/NewPhyt/BCAI Gene editing meeting report

Geraint Parry and I wrote a meeting report on outcomes from the gene editing workshop that we co-organised and held in Bristol earlier in the year that you can read here.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Four new faculty posts @Bristol BioSci

The School of Biological Sciences seeks four new academics at lecturer or senior lecturer level. Successful applicants will be research leaders with proven international track records commensurate with experience. They will drive influential research programmes that span the long-standing research strengths of the School: behavioural ecology and sensory biology, ecology and environmental change, evolutionary biology and plant and agricultural science.

Successful applicants will have strong interdisciplinary research portfolios and evidence of academic leadership along with strong commitment and aptitude for teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level and roles across the spectrum of academic life. 

A good fit to existing University Research Institutes and the Faculty of Life Sciences would also be an advantage.

For informal enquiries please contact Prof Claire Grierson (

The closing date for applications is 11:59pm on Thursday 14th February 2019.  It is anticipated that interviews will be held during week commencing 1st April 2019.

Details listed here.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Fellowship opportunities in plant and agricultural science at Bristol

The Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation (BCAI) is offering an additional £50,000 to boost project funding for three individuals that are awarded mid-career independent research fellowships at Bristol (such as BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships, Royal Society University Research Fellowships or UKRI Future Leader Fellowships). Those applying for earlier-career, shorter-term fellowships are eligible for an additional £5,000 of research funding. Proposed research must fall within the remit of BCAI to be eligible for this additional funding.
To be considered for BCAI and departmental support, prospective fellowship candidates are required to submit an expression of interest to by 10th January 2019. Your application should consist of your CV, a covering letter (indicating which fellowships you wish to apply for and confirmation that you are eligible) and a research plan (up to 2 pages). We will select and invite candidates with the potential to visit the department in March.
Please contact Dr Helen Harper for any informal enquiries. We look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 19 November 2018

FASEB Mechanisms in Plant Development meeting

Ken Birnbaum and I are putting the finishing touches together for next years FASEB Mechanisms in Plant Development meeting in St Bonaventure. The dates are July 28-August 02 2019, and I hope to see lots of you there!

Monday, 12 November 2018

Part-funding for PhD: fundamental requirements for branching in plants

Supervisor: Dr Jill Harrison
Branching is a key determinant of crop yields because it affects the positioning of organs around stems, and hence light interception and productivity. Identifying the basic mechanisms underlying branching is therefore of considerable relevance to agriculture. Our understanding of mechanisms for branching is limited to flowering plants that have complex shoot development and branching patterns1. This means that it is not possible to block branching without perturbing many other aspects of plant development. Furthermore, flowering plants have complex genome organisations with many genes affecting the same process2.
The only living plants that do not branch are bryophytes such as mosses. Mosses have low genetic complexity, meaning that few genes regulate each developmental process3. My lab has disrupted the function of a single gene in a moss and identified mutants that can branch4. The decision to branch or not is binary. This brings exciting potential to identify the fundamental requirements for branching.
My lab has recently demonstrated that this approach of stripping out developmental and genetic complexity can generate fundamental new insights into plant development in general5. Findings from this project in moss are therefore likely to be transferable to flowering plants including crops. To understand how the switch from one stem to branching can occur, this proposal aims to determine how changes in PIN gene activity can lead to branching during moss development4,6.
Your project will involve four experimental approaches:
1. Characterisation of moss development in wild-type and mutant plants
2. PIN gene expression analyses
3. PIN protein localisation analyses
4. Auxin distribution analyses in wild-type and mutant plants.
The project will provide training at the cutting edge of the plant evolution and development fields. The techniques that you learn will be broadly applicable in the academic biology and biotech sectors. The skills that you learn will be widely transferable to other areas such as science policy and publishing.
1. Domagalska and Leyser (2011). Nature Reviews in Molecular and Cell Biology 12: 211-21.
2. The Arabidopsis genome initiative (2000). Nature 408: 796-815.
3. Rensing et al. (2008). Science 319: 64-69.
4. Bennett et al. (2014). Current Biology 24: 2776-85.
5. Whitewoods et al. (2018). Current Biology 28: 2365-2376.
6. Bennett et al. (2014). Molecular Biology and Evolution 31: 2042-60.
This project is part-funded by the Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation, and applicants will need to identify further sources of funds (see info here). The call is open to students from any country. Please apply via the University of Bristol here, and direct informal enquiries to Dr Jill Harrison.