Plant and Microbial Biology

Plant and microbial biology

Our research looks at a broad spectrum of topics on plant and microbial biology, covering levels of organisation from the molecule, through the whole organism, to ecosystem and global-scale events. We have particular strengths in the areas of photosynthesis, plant-mycorrhiza and plant parasite interactions, the effects of climate and atmospheric change on plants and how plants influence global change.

Advanced molecular techniques are central to the approaches we take to tackle the wide range of problems investigated, including molecular genetics, metabolomics, fluorescent imaging, gas exchange analysis and carbon isotope analysis.

Our research provides tools to improve food security at a national and international level and offers insight into how past, present and future climactic scenarios impact on plants and, thus, the environment upon which life depends.

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Prof. David Beerling

  • Mechanisms of climate change in Earth history
  • Biotic evolution and extinction
  • Earth systems science

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Prof. Mike Burrell

  • Plant metabolism and food processing quality
  • Metabolomics and metabolite profiling
  • Starch synthesis and degradation in agricultural crops

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Prof. Duncan Cameron

  • Soil biology (mycorrhiza and rhizobacteria)
  • Parasitic plants
  • Metabolomics

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Dr Pascal-Antoine Christin

  • Evolution of C4 photosynthesis
  • Functional diversification of plants
  • Comparative genomics

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Prof. Andrew Fleming

  • The molecular mechanism of plant morphogenesis
  • Leaf form and function
  • Developmental physiology and biochemistry

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Dr Janice Lake

  • Climate change and atmospheric carbon dioxide: impacts on plant processes
  • Applied research on climate change mitigation: Carbon Capture Storage and Transport (CCS)
  • Applied research on low carbon solutions for industry: biomass substitute for fossil fuels

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Prof. Jonathan Leake

  • Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling by mycorrhizas
  • Nitrogen pollution effects on grassland soils and vegetation
  • Functional interactions between symbiotic fungi and other organisms

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Prof. Richard Leegood

  • Environmental regulation of C4 photosynthesis
  • Interactions between carbon and nitrogen metabolism
  • Roles and regulation of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase in plants

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Prof. Colin Osborne

  • Evolution of C4 photosynthesis and its ecological significance in the grasses
  • Plant-atmosphere interactions in the geological past
  • Modern plant-climate relationships

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Dr Stephen Rolfe

  • Imaging plant function
  • The molecular biology of plant pathogen and symbiotic interactions
  • Plant responses to abiotic stress

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Prof. Julie Scholes

  • Molecular plant-symbiont interactions including angiosperm parasites (Striga and Orobanche), fungal pathogens and mycorrhizas.
  • Bio-imaging: in vivo imaging of plant and fungal gene expression.
  • Molecular microbial ecology of polluted aquifers.
  • The role of biotic factors in the survival of tropical rain forest seedlings.

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Dr Lisa Smith

  • Trade-offs between plant development/growth and defence
  • Roles of carbohydrate-binding proteins in signalling networks
  • Motor proteins in plant development

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Prof. Jurriaan Ton

  • Signalling networks mediating chemically induced immune priming
  • Epigenetic basis of plant immunity and transgenerational priming
  • Impacts of root exudation chemistry on the roo-associated microbiome
  • Optimising crop protection via immune priming

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Prof. David Read

  • Mobilisation of nutrients by ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Effects of mycorrhizas on interspecific competition in plants
  • Effect of nitrogen deposition on soil processes and mycorrhizas