Reproductive heat tolerance

Seeds and fruits constitute the major part of the human diet. However, our capacity to generate sufficient crop yield is increasingly compromised by climate change. One of the reasons for this is that pollen development is one of the most heat-sensitive processes in plants. Because hot days and heat waves are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity in the coming decades, in order to maintain global food security it is crucial that we understand the mechanisms and processes underlying heat tolerance of plants.

Questions that may be answered in an internship are:

  • Is sugar metabolism involved in the negative effect of heat on reproduction?
  • What is the role of hormone signalling in heat tolerance?
  • How do plants acclimate to high temperature?
  • What genotypes are more tolerant than others and why?

To answer these question, we use tomato as a model. You will employ multiple approaches and techniques, including:
- Generating mutants (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9 cloning, transformation)
- Working with mutants, genotyping
- Treatments & phenotyping in greenhouse and climate rooms
- Gene expression analysis (qPCR, RNAseq, bioinformatics)
- Microscopy

For more information, contact Ivo Rieu (