Zinc sensing in plants

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


Zinc is essential for all life forms, including humans. It is estimated that around 2 billion people are deficient is their zinc intake. This dietary insufficiency results in the loss of around 800,000 lives each year. Predominantly these deaths are among infants who are immuno-compromised through lack of zinc intake. Human dietary zinc intake relies heavily on plants. While the major transporters for zinc accumulation have been identified, little is known about how plants control and manage zinc homeostasis.

This project will inject new insights into zinc homeostasis in plants, focussing on Arabidopsis. A genetic approach has been devised - and is operational in the Sanders lab - that will identify novel genes involved in the sensing and response to zinc supply to plants.
This genetic approach will be supported with access to outstanding facilities. Identification of genes involved in zinc homeostasis will enable a cellular and genetic analysis of their roles, and through genomic and modelling approaches, potential application of findings to crop plants.

The project includes the identification of novel zinc-sensing mutants using a luciferase reporter screen. The student will take advantage of zinc fluorescent sensors to study the regulation of zinc ion concentrations in plant cells. Plants that are stably expressing zinc-selective FRET sensors are available in the lab and these will be important tools for the project.
Through collaboration with mathematicians (Richard Morris as a member of the supervisory team), it is envisaged that the student will be able to develop a novel and innovative quantitative framework for the understanding and application of zinc homeostasis in plants.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1800249 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Camilla Stanton
Description Poster presentation at John Innes Centre Annual Science Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The JIC annual science meeting brings together researchers from across the Norwich research Park to showcase and present the work being done on site. This involves postgraduate students presenting posters about their work in order to network and practice presentation skills to a mixed background audience.

I produced a poster presenting the latest results from my project. I discussed my results with a number of other postgraduate students and researchers and had some extremely useful conversation and feedback, including a recommendation for a new protocol that I am now using.
I also won a poster prize and was asked to do an oral presentation at the student annual science meeting in 2019 as a result.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Poster presentation at John Innes Centre Annual Science Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Zinc_net aims to bring together researchers from various fields who have interest in zinc biology.
i aimed to present my work in a poster format and network with other people involved in the zinc research field.
I successfully made new contacts and had interesting discussions surrounding my work. I was encouraged to do an oral presentation at the next meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019