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Postgraduate research project

The role of singlet oxygen signaling in plant responses to heat and drought stress

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Climate change provides a major challenge for plants as they cope with increases in abiotic stresses such as high or low temperature and drought. These conditions will negatively affect responses to biotic stresses caused by insect herbivores and pathogens, and contribute to the ongoing problem of providing sufficient food for an increasing World population (1). Temperature stress and drought can result in the production of reactive oxygen species including singlet oxygen, which signals to the rest of the plant that it is in a stressful environment. Seedling development is a particularly sensitive time during the plant life cycle and seedling damage is a major cause of crop loss. We have shown that singlet oxygen production in seedlings has a similar transcriptional signature to heat stress (2) and we hypothesise that singlet oxygen signalling from the chloroplast sends an SOS signal to the seedling that permits acclimation to environmental stresses. In this project we will test this hypothesis by examining the ability of Arabidopsis mutants (e.g. 3) compromised in SOS to withstand different stress regimes including heat and drought. We will then use our Arabidopsis findings to investigate the SOS response in important crop species including wheat and rice.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Matthew Terry (University of Southampton)
  • Haruko Okamoto (University of Sussex)