Ph.D. Topics

Investigating the impact of heat stress on ovule fitness for seed set in Arabidopsis thaliana

Supervisor: Helene Robert Boisivon, Ph.D.


Gametes are key determinants of reproductive success, and their responses to adverse climatic events are particularly relevant for developing heat-resilient plants. Many studies describe the impact of heat stress on pollen development, leading to the production of pollen grain, carrier of the male gametes. Very little is known of the effects of heat on ovules, the female gametophyte. Seed production relies on a successful double fertilization of the egg cell and the central cell by the two sperm cells. In the ovule, a third type of cells, the synergids, attracts the pollen tube to the egg cell for an effective fertilization. The PhD candidate will investigate the effect of heat stress on pollen tube attraction and fertilization of the ovule at molecular and physiological levels, using genetics, microscopy, transcriptomics, and molecular biology approaches.

The Ph.D. topic is part of the collaborative project TANGENC and will benefit from the COST Action CA22157 RECROP.

Requirements on candidates

The candidate has experience in molecular biology (cloning, RT-qPCR), expression analysis (microscopy), and notions of plant genetics and epigenetics. The candidate will have notions of bioinformatics.


Before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are required to contact the supervisor or/and fill in the registration form on the web page of the CEITEC PhD School.

Recommended literature:

  1. Mácová, K; Prabhullachandran, U; Štefková, M; Spyroglou, I; Pěnčík, A; Endlová, L; Novák, O; Robert, H.S. (2022) Long-Term High-Temperature Stress Impacts on Embryo and Seed Development in Brassica napus. FRONTIERS in PLANT SCIENCES 13, 844292. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.844292
  2. Hafidh, S. & Honys, D. (2021) Reproduction Multitasking: The Male Gametophyte. ANNU REV PLANT BIOL 72, 1–34. DOI: 10.1007/s00497-015-0272-4
  3. Völz, R., Harris, W., Hirt, H. & Lee, Y.–H. (2022) ROS homeostasis mediated by MPK4 and SUMM2 determines synergid cell death. Nat Commun 13, 1746. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29373-7

Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana, genetics, high temperatures, microscopy, ovules, seed set