Professor Andrew Fleming

Professor Andrew Fleming

Tel: +44 (0)114 222 4830


Room D57, Alfred Denny Building

Lab Webpage:


Professor of Plant Science, University of Sheffield (2004-present)
Group Leader, ETH-Zurich, Switzerland (1997-2004)
Habilitation, University of Bern, Switzerland (1996)
Assistant, University of Bern, Switzerland (1989-1996)
Postdoctorate, ETH-Zurich, Switzerland (1988)
PhD Cambridge (1987)
BA Cambridge (1984)

Key Research Interests

image of leaf

Our research is focussed on understanding the mechanism of plant morphogenenesis. In particular, we are interested in understanding the interplay of cell growth and division and how these parameters are integrated into the developmental program controlling leaf size and shape. Using techniques of cell and molecular biology, we are testing hypotheses on the regulation of organogenesis. At the same time, these approaches provide functional data on gene products implicated in basic aspects of the plant cell cycle and the plant cell wall. Our focus is on an integrative approach in which, in addition to cell and molecular techniques, we are incorporating computational modeling, physiology and biochemistry to provide an organismal-level understanding of leaf formation and function.

In addition, as a result of our interest in cell division and the cell wall and how they are integrated into plant function, we have become involved in a range of collaborative ventures. For example, the interplay between development, physiology and metabolism has led to novel joint projects aimed at developing/implementing techniques for the visualization and analysis of metabolites at the cellular level and their integration with developmental processes (Paul Quick, Mike Burrell). The cell wall also plays an important role in the functioning of specific cell types required for leaf function and this has led to joint EvoDevo projects looking at aspects of plant evolution (David Beerling, Julie Gray, Charles Wellman).

The group has a strong tradition of pan-European research. If you are interested in applying for a EU-Marie Curie Fellowship to work with us, don´t hesitate to make contact.


I am a developmental biologist. This involves the study of how something apparently simple (a cell) becomes something incredibly complicated (a mature, multicellular organism) in a robust and reproducible fashion. My interest is in plant development, but one of the lessons of the past decades has been how developmental concepts can be applied across the whole of biology, and it is understanding these unifying (and yet distinctive) approaches to solving common developmental problems that underpin my teaching (and my research).

At Level 1 I co-ordinate and teach the APS120 module (Reproduction, Development and Growth), at Level 2 I co-ordinate and teach the APS274 module (The Molecular Revolution in Biology), and at Level 3 I teach on APS308 (Environmental Regulation in Plants). As these modules suggest, a significant part of my teaching involves core molecular and cell biology. The approaches and techniques underpin the vast majority of modern biology and are an essential component in any biologist’s armoury. In addition, as a developmental biologist my interest extends to understanding the relationship between the endogenous genetically-defined program and its final output in terms of biochemistry, physiology and mechanics, and how this can be modified by the environment, and manipulated for biotechnology. Thus, Level 3 projects link up with a variety of research projects running in my group ranging from stem cell function, leaf morphogenesis and EvoDevo studies, using methods including molecular biology, metabolomics, microscopy and bioinformatics- again, hands-on experience of techniques which underpin biological (and biomedical) research. Level 4 MBiolSci students are assigned a project closely tied to a PhD student or postdoc in the group, allowing them to gain real insight and one-to-one training in what research at the bench really involves.

Current Research Group (2017)

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Chris Hepworth (BBSRC Postdoctoral Researcher)
A 3-D Model of Photosynthesis to Inform Breeding for Improved Rice Performance in a Changing Climate

Technical Staff

Marion Bauch (Lab Manager) - Optimising leaf photosynthesis

Gemma Newsome (Metabolomics and Analytical Lab)

Jen Sloan (Research Technician)

Rachel Thorley (Research Technician)

Heather Walker (Metabolomics and Analytical Lab)

PhD Students

Marion Tout (BBSRC-CASE) (with Mike Burrell)
Developmental metabolomics of the meristem

Alice Baillie (Gatsby Foundation)
Optimising cellular architecture for photosynthesis in a changing environment: manipulating the mesophyll

Eleanor Healicon (BBSRC-DTP) (co-supervisor Julie Gray)
The mechanics of shape change in plants

Matthew Wilson (BBSRC-CASE)
Engineering a better wheat leaf

Jess Dunn (BBSRC-DTP) (co-supervisor Julie Gray)
The effect of manipulating stomatal development in wheat

Spyridon Sovatzoglou (co-supervisor Jamie Hobbs)
Investigation of plant cell wall mechanics with atomic force microscopy

Naomi Cox (BBSRC-CASE) (co-supervisors Lisa Smith and Paul Quick)
Engineering the rice leaf for improved photosynthesis

Sarah Carroll (BBSRC-DTP) (co-supervisors Julie Gray and Rhoda Hawkin)
Shifting shape with cell walls: imaging the dynamics of guard cell movement

MRes Student

Thomas Grand
Metabolism of dormancy in potato

Visiting Scientists

Amin Adik (UPM, Malaysia)

Supatthra Narawatthana (Bureau of Rice Research and Development, Thailand)