Hello, my name is Aleksandra Mironova. I am a PhD student at working at the LPCV, IRIG and the ESRF since October 2021, under the supervision of Dr. Chloe Zubieta and Dr. Mark Tully. I started my carrier as a plant breeder at Timiryazev Academy (Moscow, Russia) where I got my bachelor degree. Then, I got my first Master’s degree of molecular biology in Horticulture in MAICh (Chania, Greece), and the second Master’s degree in biotechnology at ITMO University (Saint Petersburg, Russia).
I am focused on plants, these amazing organisms that bring many questions in science nowadays. One of this is – What drives the timing of flowering? One factor is temperature. This is critically especially in the time of global warming. Already, plant phenology is affected by climate change, leading plants to flower earlier, have a reduced biomass and a decrease in the number and size of seeds and fruits, presenting a thread to our food security. But, how do plants perceive the ambient temperature and reprogram their growth, development and flowering based on small changes in temperature?
One player is the circadian clock associated protein EARLY FLOWERING3 (ELF3) in Arabidopsis thaliana. ELF3 is a mainly intrinsically disordered protein, lacking defined secondary structures, with a prion like domain (PrLD), which resembles a yeast prion domain known to be involved in protein aggregation. Interestingly, the PrLD of ELF3 drives liquid-liquid phase separation, resulting in the formation of liquid droplets in vitro and in vivo. In the case of ELF3 the formation of these droplets is triggered inter alia by higher ambient temperature. My PhD project is to understand how the inter- and intramolecular interactions determine the different phases in vitro and use this to design plants with altered thermoresponse.
I am intrigued by this question without a doubt, I have found the best place to work on it.