Under supervision of Eva van Zelm (Eva.vanZelm@wur.nl)

Aim: Investigate the cellular basis of root growth responses to salinity

Soil salinity is a major problem for agriculture worldwide. Due to bad irrigation practices and global warming the number of salinized soils are increasing. For most crops the growth decreases by salt, therefore the yield from these areas is decreased. From work with the model species Arabidopsis thaliana we know that its root architecture changes when grown on salt. Using a ‘timelapse’ setup we can dynamically follow the changes in root growth rate, revealing different growth phases following salt treatment. The growth of the primary root first rapidly decreases. After a quiescent phase, where the root growth stays low, the root growth rate partially recovers.

This quiescence phase seems to be essential, but we do not know what happens in this phase. In this project you will be looking which cellular processes determine these different growth phases.


  • Phenotyping: Following root growth with timelapse setup, helping to set up a imaging system for dynamic shoot growth changes.
  • Image analysis: ImageJ, R, possibly python
  • Other techniques: Genotyping, Confocal Microscopy and qpcr.


BSc/MSc thesis for student with basic lab skills and an interest in plant responses to abiotic stress.