Master Thesis Projects in the Department of Molecular Ecology


Project 1: Time for interaction: Role of circadian clock in plant-herbivore interactions

 
Project description: Circadian rhythms in plants are maintained through highly conserved regulatory proteins. We investigate the role of the circadian clock in defense responses to herbivore attack in a wild tobacco species, Nicotiana attenuata. In this master project the student will analyze anti-herbivore defense responses of wild type N. attenuata plants and transgenic plants with altered clock components. Additionally, the student will produce asynchronous plants and insects, with altered circadian rhythms, to study how the clock shapes their interactions.

Techniques will comprise the following:

  • Phytohormone extraction and quantification
  • Secondary metabolite extraction and quantification
  • RT and qPCR
  • Primary metabolite analysis/enzyme assays
  • Insect bioassays

Requirements

  • applicant should be in the final stage of her/his masters in Biology/Plant Biology/Ecology or Biochemistry
  • strong interest in plant physiology/biochemistry/signaling/entomology/ecology
  • good English communication and writing skills
  • duration of master thesis: > 6 months


If you are interested, please contact

Stefan Meldau or Dr. Sang-Gyu Kim
Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Abteilung Molekulare Ökologie / Prof. Ian T. Baldwin
Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
07745 Jena

E-mail: smeldau [at] ice.mpg.de, Tel: +493641 57 1134
E-mail: skim [at] ice.mpg.de, Tel: 493641 57 1140

Project 2: Role of cytokinins in plant defense against insects
 
Project description:
Cytokinins (CKs) are plant hormones that play important roles in developmental processes. Recent literature suggests that CKs play pivotal roles in plant defense against pathogens. The role of CKs in plant defense responses against herbivores, however, remains mostly unexplored. Currently, we exam the roles of CKs in mediating plant perception and defense responses induced by herbivores. We now offer a master project that focuses on the mechanisms of how cytokinins mediate these defense responses. We will use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and various molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to tackle these questions.

Techniques will comprise the following:

  • Phytohormone extraction and quantification
  • Secondary metabolite extraction and quantification
  • RT and qPCR
  • Insect bioassays
  • Primary metabolite analysis/enzyme assays

Requirements

  • applicant should be in the final stage of her/his masters in Biology or Biochemistry
  • strong interrest in plant physiology/biochemistry/signalling
  • good English communication and writing skills

Literature
Choi et al. (2011) Cytokinins and plant immunity: old foes or new friends? Trends in Plant Science, Volume 16, Issue 7, 388-394
Grosskinsky et al (2011) Cytokinins mediate resistance against Pseudomonas syringae in tobacco through increased antimicrobial phytoalexin synthesis independent of salicylic acid signalling Plant Physiology doi: 10.1104/pp.111.182931
Schäfer et al (2011) Lipase activity in insect oral secretions mediates defense responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 156(3):1520-34

Contact:
Stefan Meldau
Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Abteilung Molekulare Ökologie / Prof. Ian T. Baldwin
Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
07745 Jena

E-mail: smeldau [at] ice.mpg.de

Phone: 03641 57-1134