PhD Opportunity

Studentship details: Stipend of €16 000 per annum (plus EU fees) for up to maximum 4 years. Consumables and training/conference travel budget is also included.


Identifying Molecular and Genetic Regulators of Plant Programmed Cell Death

Programmed cell death (PCD) is an integral part of the plant lifecycle from embryogenesis to senescence. This genetically controlled pathway of cell destruction can be also elicited by environmental stress. Invading pathogens, heavy metals, heat, UV radiation, waterlogging and salinity can induce PCD in order to isolate and remove damaged tissues, and potentially to amplify systemic stress signalling, thereby ensuring the survival of the organism. Consequently, PCD is a fundamentally important process in plants that needs to be tightly controlled for normal growth, development and interactions with environment.

Understanding the intricacies of PCD regulation is a grand challenge for the plant science research community, especially considering that an increasingly volatile climate may limit crop production and put global food security at risk. The past two decades of research have uncovered a number of signalling pathways and cellular events associated with different types of plant PCD. Despite this, the understanding of this essential process and our ability to manipulate it is still lacking, and it is unclear whether a common core machinery controlling plant PCD exists.

In this PhD project you will study plant PCD under supervision of Dr. Joanna Kacprzyk and Dr. Paul McCabe (School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin). You will define the PCD pathways in plants at the systems level using global transcriptional (RNA-seq) and translational (ribosome footprinting) profiling. You will functionally validate any identified candidate PCD genes. Finally, you will determine the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on PCD signalling in plants. This work will contribute to strategies for development of climate-proofed agriculture.

The informal enquiries are welcome and should be made to Dr. Joanna Kacprzyk ( or Dr. Paul McCabe (

Minimum educational background: BSc or MSc degree (2.1 grade or above) in Biological Sciences/Molecular Biology/Cell Biology/Genetics/Plant Biology or related discipline.

Desirable: prior experience in working in research laboratory, experience in handling NGS data and using R.
The successful candidate should be enthusiastic, self-motivated and willing to learn new tools and technologies.

To apply please send your cover letter, CV and details of two referees to Dr Joanna Kacprzyk (

Closing date: Sunday 16th June, 2019.