Genetics (Marin)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Biology
Subject area
Project title
Life within a cell
Name of supervisor
Dr. Macarena Marin
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place during the past 4 years.
Project time plan
Full Doctoral Study Model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

Nitrogen-fixing rhizobia can live endosymbiotically inside specialized cells in the roots of legume plants. No other living cell-type can host rhizobia. Despite the uniqueness of this process and its importance for agriculture, our molecular understanding of the cellular adaptations required to host rhizobia inside root nodule cells remains limited. By comparing the transcriptomes of root nodules that can and cannot host rhizobia, we identified candidate genes that are likely to mediate this process. Among these, genes with functions associated with cell wall plasticity and cell expansion were specifically upregulated in infected nodules. In this project, we will investigate the function of these genes and evaluate if they play a role in hosting endosymbiotic bacteria. To this end we will: i) generate mutants of selected candidates using CRISPR/Cas editing and assess their phenotypes, ii) analyze the spatiotemporal control of promoters driving the expression of candidate genes, and iii) use advanced microscopy and mathematical modelling to understand the relation between cell wall plasticity and cell expansion. The molecular understanding of how plant cells host endosymbiotic bacteria will aid in the long-term goal of transferring endosymbiotic nitrogen-fixation to other plants, which will hopefully reduce the need of using environmentally harmful nitrogen fertilizers.

Contact information
If you are interested in this project contact me to

What are you looking for?