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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Min Kim

  Republic of Korea

  Biological Sciences (BBSRC DTP), Downing College

  PhD thesis: Understanding the mechanism of trichome development in Hibiscus trionum



Research interests:

  1. Petal Patterning
  2. Trichome Development
  3. Computational Biology
  4. Evo-Devo

The intricate petal patterns of flowering plants play a vital role in attracting pollinators and ensuring the species' reproductive success. These patterns are highly elaborate, combining variations in pigmentation, cell shape, and texture on the petal epidermis. Petal patterns also include ‘hairs’ called trichomes which display impressive diversity in terms of morphology, distribution and functions, but this diversity is understudied. Trichomes appear when epidermal cells acquire distinct ‘trichome fates’, yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. My PhD will focus on how distinct trichome patterns emerge in Hibiscus trionum, which displays seven unique trichome types varying in morphology, number, and spacing. My research will begin characterizing the formation and spatial arrangement of each trichome during petal growth. Subsequently, I will investigate the gene regulatory networks responsible for shaping and distributing these specialized trichomes. Lastly, I will explore the potential functions of glandular trichomes and the evolutionary processes generating trichome diversity.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

My journey into research has been driven by a lifelong aspiration to become a biomimicry specialist who bridges the gaps between disciplines and generates original ideas for sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's patterns. While mimicking movements exhibited by flying birds and swimming sharks has been a common practice in biomimicry, the potential of plants as sources of natural inspiration has only recently gained recognition, revealing a reservoir of untapped innovations. I aim to develop expertise in plant biology, integrating genetics, biochemistry, and computational modelling, with the hope of becoming a well-rounded scientist capable of conducting multidisciplinary research.