The role of membrane trafficking in cellular recognition
Applicants (UK, EU and international) capable of self-funding or with scholarship are welcome to apply.
Cell recognition and cellular communication is vital in many biological processes, but is poorly understood. One essential form of recognition occurs in fertilization, allowing only the correct gametes to interact, a particular problem for plants where pollen can come from many different species. However we know almost nothing about these recognition events, despite pollination and the subsequent seed development being vital for feeding humanity. On their way to fertilising the ovules, growing pollen tubes continuously sense and respond to unknown signals from the female pistil tissues which are then translated into a growth response. Based on recent results from other systems is likely to involve novel pollen tube membrane receptor-like proteins that are delivered and recycled into the growing tip by exocytosis and endocytosis, respectively. This exciting project is focussed on elucidating the importance of pollen tube (endocytic) membrane trafficking in this vital process of pollen-pistil signalling and understanding the molecular details of these endocytic pathways in pollen tubes. This project will involve 3 objectives: 1) identification of all endocytic compartments in pollen tubes using new and established fluorescently labelled compartment specific protein markers, 2) dissection of endomembrane trafficking events in growing pollen tubes during in vivo interactions, and 3) isolation and proteome analysis of pollen tube endomembrane compartments. It will combine cutting edge molecular biology, biochemical and immunological techniques, with live cell confocal microscopy imaging. The project will contribute to our systems approach to model tip membrane dynamics of growing pollen tubes and, importantly, the role of endocytosis in pollen tube communication with the pistil. UK students with a strong track record are invited to contact Dr Barend De Graaf for further details.