Mr Michael Austin
Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
The land plant circadian clock plays an essential role in the regulation of primary and secondary metabolism to coordinate metabolite utilization over days and seasons. My MSc project aims to explore the fundamental process of circadian regulation of diurnal rhythms during xylogenesis, based on the circadian clock and diurnal rhythms in a Eucalyptus grandis x E. urophylla.
This systems biology approach will aid in the creation of rational biotechnological solutions for the improvement of traits related to wood quality, pathogen resistance, and the expansion of growth ranges to mitigate the effects of climate change in Eucalyptus. Mature leaf, phloem, and immature xylem transcriptomic data will be analysed from three biological replicates at 3-hour time intervals over a 48-hour time period, to generate a comprehensive catalogue of circadian clock genes, and will allow us to identify diurnal-cycling genes in order to quantify tissue specific phase variations in xylem compared to leaves. Previous evidence of diurnal regulation of plastid targeted carbon metabolism during xylogenesis will be specifically examined in this project, as plastid metabolism represents a flux point between cellulosic biopolymers, monolignol precursors, and fatty acids. This project will lead to a model of circadian regulation of carbon metabolism during xylogenesis, and temporal metabolite partitioning within the plastid for the synthesis of monolignol precursors.