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University of Silesia in Katowice

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USil biologists to implement project within MSCA Doctoral Networks 2023!

15.04.2024 - 12:24 update 17.04.2024 - 15:45
Editors: OO

The European Commission has announced the results of the 2023 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) call for Doctoral Networks. The project Harnessing the DNA Damage Response to improve plant tolerance to heat stress—the partner of which is the University of Silesia in Katowice—has been included on the list of projects selected for funding. On behalf of the University, the project will be directed by Miriam Szurman-Zubrzycka, PhD, a member of the Plant Genetics, Genomics and Biotechnology Team at the Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection, University of Silesia in Katowice.

Project description

In the face of climate change, Europe stands against new challenges posing a menace to food security. An increasing frequency of summer heatwaves has been observed during the past few years, constituting a particularly dangerous factor limiting crop yield. By no means could heat stress be alleviated in the field. Similar to other types of stresses, heat stress has a negative impact on plants and limits their cell division activity in meristems. There is growing evidence that suggests that this growth reduction is partly caused by the activation of plants’ DNA Damage Response (DDR). Therefore, there is a dire need to develop innovative strategies that may improve plants’ tolerance to stress and secure crop yield stability and productivity in the face of climate change.

The HeatDDR project is to unravel the connections between DDR and plants’ responses to heat stress and adjust these cell responses to enable the plant’s survival without hindering its growth. The combination of groups of diverse experiences and private companies interested in this topic, HeatDDR brings together multiscale approaches, including biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, computational biology and plant phenotyping, to explore this issue and train a new generation of scientists who are experts in this new area.

Within the project, early-stage academics will have practical training in advanced laboratory techniques, develop their skills that will secure their effective integration into the labour market in the academic sector and beyond, and create solid bases to create a European cooperation network in this area.

About the call

The MSCA Doctoral Networks aim to train PhD students through international partnerships between scientific institutions and companies, give them opportunities to participate in international initiatives and improve their qualifications. The last edition attracted a total of 1,066 proposals, with 128 projects selected for funding, which will, in turn, support and train 1,900 doctoral students within and outside of academia. Detailed information about the results on the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange website.

dr Miriam Szurman-Zubrzycka

Miriam Szurman-Zubrzycka, PhD, Faculty of Natural Sciences | Photo by Małgorzata Dymowska

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