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.

Beerling Research

Prof. David Beerling

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

Prof. Mike Burrell

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

Prof. Duncan Cameron

  • Soil biology (mycorrhiza and rhizobacteria)
  • Parasitic plants
  • Metabolomics
Christin research image

Dr Pascal-Antoine Christin

  • Evolution of C4 photosynthesis
  • Functional diversification of plants
  • Comparative genomics
A Fleming Research Image

Prof. Andrew Fleming

  • The molecular mechanism of plant morphogenesis
  • Leaf form and function
  • Developmental physiology and biochemistry
Janice Lake Research Image

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
Leake Research

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
Leegood Research

Prof. Richard Leegood

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

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
Pierre Petriacq research

Dr Pierre Petriacq

  • Rhizosphere metabolomics
  • Metabolic regulations of the plant immune system
  • NAD signalling in response to development and stress
Quick Research

Prof. Paul Quick

  • The regulation of carbohydrate metabolism in crop plants
  • Metabolomic approaches to solving novel questions in plant metabolism
  • Role of the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway in secondary metabolism
  • Regulation of leaf development by systematic signals
Rolfe Research

Dr Stephen Rolfe

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

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.
L Smith research image

Dr Lisa Smith

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

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
Woodward Research

Prof. Ian Woodward

  • The regulation of stomatal development by environmental signals
  • The impact of systemic signalling on plant development
Read Research

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