Supervisor:  H. Robert Boisivon


Somatic embryogenesis is the plant’s unique developmental capacity to switch on an embryonic developmental program in somatic cells. It is a process widely used for the micropropagation of various plant species. The somatic embryogenesis process is also a valuable working model to decipher the molecular mechanisms that determine the capacity of somatic cells to reprogram into embryonic cells. The plant hormone auxin is one key regulator and inducer of the process. And the AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR5 plays a fundamental role in regulating many aspects of the somatic embryogenesis response. ARF5 may regulate the expression of auxin biosynthetic YUCCA enzymes and post-transcriptional modulators such as miRNA390s. This project will contribute to gain a better understanding of their regulatory interaction during the somatic embryogenesis process. The project will include the functional analysis of the MIR390 genes during the embryogenic transition and the analysis of the functional relationship between ARF5 and selected YUCCAs. The proposed experimental approaches include the preparation of molecular reporters and various other constructs (cloning and generation of transgenics), the preparation of CRISPR-based mutants and their phenotypic analysis (genetics, tissue culture), and the analysis of expression (microscopy, RT-qPCR), among others.

The Ph.D. topic is part of a bilateral collaborative project with the Polish research team led by Dr. Barbara Wójcikowska in the lab of Prof. Gaj at the University of Silesia in Katowice.

Recommended literature:

Robert, H. S. et al. Local auxin sources orient the apical-basal axis in Arabidopsis embryos. Current Biology 23, 2506–2512 (2013).

Verma, S., Attuluri, V. P. S. & Robert, H. S. An Essential Function for Auxin in Embryo Development. Csh Perspect Biol 13, a039966 (2021).

Wójcikowska, B. et al. LEAFY COTYLEDON2 (LEC2) promotes embryogenic induction in somatic tissues of Arabidopsis, via YUCCA-mediated auxin biosynthesis. Planta 238, 425–440 (2013).

Wójcikowska, B., Wójcik, A. M. & Gaj, M. D. Epigenetic Regulation of Auxin-Induced Somatic Embryogenesis in Plants. Int J Mol Sci 21, 2307 (2020).

For more detail about our group, please refer to our website: http://boisivonlab.ceitec.cz. The team currently has 11 members (5 Ph.D. students, three postdocs, three lab technicians). We are international (Czech, French, Croat, Indian, Lebanese, Iranian, Spanish).

Applications should include: a CV, a scanned copy of the Masters or an official letter certifying its completion, brief motivation letter, and contacts for at least two references should be sent via e-mail helene.robert.boisivon@ceitec.muni.cz or phd@ceitec.muni.cz.

More information about CEITEC PhD School are available at http://ls-phd.ceitec.cz/.