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Understanding how cell polarity is patterned in plants


The symmetrical arrangements of leaves and flowers have long fascinated artists and mathematicians alike for hundreds of years. Using live-imaging, molecular biology and genetics, this project will dissect the cell-cell signalling that enables the creation of these amazing patterns.


Associate Professor Marcus Heisler.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



The symmetrical arrangements of leaves and flowers have long fascinated artists and mathematicians alike for hundreds of years. These arrangements are controlled by the distribution of a plant hormone called auxin, which, at high concentrations, triggers the formation of new leaves and flowers. Auxin becomes concentrated at specific locations in plant tissues due to individual cells transporting auxin in a directional manner. How do plant cells know which way to transport auxin so as to create the amazing patterns of leaves and flowers we see?

This project will investigate the signals through which plant cells talk to each in order to coordinate their auxin transport directions. By using confocal imaging and molecular techniques that enable fine-scale genetic perturbations down to the single cell level this project aims to understand how developmental patterns are created from individual cell-cell interactions.

Additional information

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license; Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2371

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