The Fay-Wei Li lab (fernway.net) at Boyce Thompson Institute is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on bryophyte-cyanobacteria symbiosis. Plant symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria is a unique form of mutualistic association. It has independently evolved in diverse, yet isolated lineages, from a few species of bryophytes, ferns, cycads, to a small genus of flowering plants. Compared to rhizobia, cyanobacteria are far less dependent on the host, and therefore hold a promising translational potential toward installing nitrogen fixation onto crop plants through symbiosis. However, very little is known about the genetic regulation in plant-cyanobacteria symbiosis. Our recent groundwork on hornworts, a group of bryophytes capable of cyanobacteria symbiosis, has made hornworts a promising model system.
This project will leverage the new hornwort model system to identify (1) the metabolites and (2) the genes that are essential for symbiosis. The first objective focuses on the putative chemical signals exchanged during symbiosis initiation. The exact identities of these signals have been unknown, but will be determined using comparative metabolomics analyses. The second objective is to dissect the genetic control of symbiotic association through time course RNA-seq experiments. A systems approach will be taken to discover and prioritize candidate genes from both partners, and their functional involvements validated by reverse genetics. In addition, the hornwort orthologs of common symbiosis genes—which play a dual role in both rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbioses—will be examined to test whether a conserved module exists that regulate all three forms of plant-microbe symbioses.
Essential Job Functions
Routinely reconstitute hornwort-cyanobacteria symbiosis from axenic cultures.
Generate and analyze time-course RNA-seq data.
Improve the current CRISPR-Cas9 protocol for hornwort genome editing, and apply it to examine specific gene function.
Coordinate with collaborators in UC-Davis and University of Zurich (with occasional travels).
Synthesis and writing.
Ph.D. in plant science, microbiology, bioinformatics, or related fields.
Experience working with bryophyte-microbe interaction is strongly desirable.
Working from a sincere interest in issues of social justice, William Boyce Thompson founded The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1924, believing that basic plant research could lead to real societal benefit. BTI’s 15 faculty-run laboratories and greenhouse facilities are staffed by more than 110 researchers from over 40 countries. The research out of these laboratories has the potential to improv...e important food crops, to demystify plant and human immune systems, and to reveal alternative, sustainable sources of energy. Along with its research, BTI prioritizes environmental stewardship, and outreach to teachers, students, and community members.BTI is an independent, non-profit institution affiliated with Cornell University and located on its Ithaca campus, near the College of Veterinary Medicine on Tower Road