Identifying genes involved in microRNA turnover in Arabidopsis

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Biological Sciences


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules regulating the expression of protein coding genes by targeting mRNAs. Since they play key roles in development and in responses to both biotic and abiotic stresses, it is important that miRNAs are expressed at the right time and place. Therefore there must be a mechanism to degrade miRNAs (miRNA turnover) and that mechanism itself must be carefully regulated to ensure that miRNAs are not present when their function is not required. However, we know very little about this mechanism and its regulation. The successful candidate will carry out a mutant screen to identify genes involved in miRNA turnover. The screening assay relies on a GFP sensor, which is targeted by a miRNA. Expression of the miRNA will be induced by germinating seeds on a special media. After changing the media the miRNA transcription is switched off and the existing miRNA molecules will be degraded, leading to green fluorescence recovery in the seedlings. The successful candidate will screen for lines exhibiting faster or slower GFP recovery. After validation of the mutant phenotype the student will identify the mutant genes by next generation sequencing. Identifying genes involved in miRNA turnover will open up a new field in the RNA silencing area. Understanding the function of those genes and how miRNA turnover is regulated will impact on all aspect of plant biology but also on biomedicine as siRNAs are potential therapeutics.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1799918 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2016 31/12/2020 Rocky Payet
Description Am developing a better understanding of a previously described function for a gene in Arabidopsis thaliana. The gene was previously shown to be involved in `quality control` of genes which are expressed, as well as controlling the expression of a number of stress responsive genes. I have begin to find evidence for a new way in which this gene expression can be enacted by the gene.
Exploitation Route This gene could serve as a marker gene for crop breeders looking to breed crops with altered stress tolerance.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description Organising Local Events for Public 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Organised and hosted three evening events for the Pint of Science festival in Norwich. The three events were each attended by between 40 to 100 members of the general public, and aimed to educate them at a basic level about the research that was going on in the local area which was tax-payer funded. There were a number of questions asked, averaging between 7 - 10 per night. There was also a quiz that the audience took part in which we prepared.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017