E.C. van der Wijk BSc (Elmar)

PhD candidate - Plant Systems Physiology

E.C. van der Wijk BSc (Elmar)
Visiting address

Heyendaalseweg 135
Internal postal code: 71

Postal address

Postbus 9010

Working days Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Due to climate change, flooding events can happen more often. Therefore, it is vital to understand how plants can protect themselves from the stresses that occur while under water. Like us humans, plants “suffocate” when oxygen levels drop during flooding. Recent studies in Arabidopsis thaliana have shown the important role of the volatile plant hormone ethylene. When the plant is submerged, ethylene quickly builds up and acts as early warning signal for protecting the meristem in the root tip against the following hypoxia. The protection of the meristem is critical because this region is required for the further growth of the root. Central in this process is phytoglobin, which removes the NO gas, thereby stabilising ERF-VII transcription factors that coordinate the hypoxia response.

During my PhD, I aim to elucidate the mechanisms of this meristem protection by ethylene and phytoglobin. The hypothesis is that not all cell types are equally important in ethylene response, or that some have a different function. In this project, together with our colleagues from Utrecht University, we will try to figure out the roles of each cell type in this process and investigate the spatiotemporal regulation of the genes involved.

I will use imaging techniques to look at miniature changes in the architecture of the root, or even within specific tissues or cells. With the aid of fluorescent protein markers, the behaviour of proteins or gene expression can be determined. These expression patterns can be used to determine the regions in the genome that regulate the genes, particularly the cis-regulatory elements. Comparative genomics could reveal how this regulation evolved in different plant species as a consequence of their environments. During my PhD, I will use an integrated approach that incorporates both experimental data, and bioinformatics analyses.