Plants and Photosynthesis


Within the global challenge of food security, enhancing crop yield and robustness is a key priority; understanding the molecular mechanisms behind plant development and photosynthesis is essential to acheive this goal. Particular focus is given to stomatal development and regulation to understand how plants respond to changes in their environment, as well as the structure and molecular mechanism of photosynthetic complexes from both plants and photosynthetic bacteria.

Plant and photosynthesis research in our department at a glance:

  • Plant development - gene expression, signalling pathways, stem cells, hormones, miRNA
  • Stomata - regulation of gas exchange; aperture control, density, environmental signalling, crop productivity
  • Algae - biofuel products by microalgae; molecular biodiversity, algal photosynthesis, biodiesel
  • Photosynthesis - chlorophyll biosynthesis, photosynthetic membranes, phototrophic bacteria, artificial photosynthesis 

For further information and research opportunities, please see the staff page of individual researchers below:


Dr Stuart Casson

Room: E7b
0114 222 4235

Environmental signalling in the regulation of plant development, in particular the transcriptional regulation of stomatal differentiation. Light and CO2 regulation of stomatal density and the effect on gas exchange and plant viability.



Dr Jim Gilmour

Room: F3a
0114 222 4412

Molecular biology of life in extreme environments, especially high salinity and low temperature environments. Bioremediation of polluted groundwater systems. Use of microalgae to produce sustainable biofuels.



Prof Julie Gray

Room: C34b
0114 222 4407

Molecular genetics of stomata. Investigating how environmental change affects both the number of stomata that are produced and their sensitivity to environmental signals such as drought, heat or CO2. Translating research findings to wheat and rice, with the aim of improving drought tolerance and water use efficiency under future climates.


Em Prof Peter Horton FRS

Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry

+44 (0) 7714202652

Interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable food security. Understanding photoprotection in plants; increasing crop yield by optimisation of photosynthesis; analysis of agri-food ecosystems


Prof Neil Hunter FRS

Krebs Chair in Biochemistry

Room: E14a
0114 222 4191

Biogenesis, structure, function and nanotechnology of photosynthetic membrane proteins from phototrophic bacteria and plants. Enzymology of the chlorophyll and carotenoid biosynthesis pathways.



Dr Matt Johnson

Room: E6a
0114 222 4418

Structure and function of the higher plant photosynthetic thylakoid membrane using atomic force microscopy and stochastic super-optical microscopy (STORM/ PALM) combined with membrane biochemistry.



Dr Karim Sorefan

Room: E1a
0114 222 2720

Molecular mechanisms regulating plant development with a particular focus on linking miRNA and hormonal pathways in plant stem cells. Understanding how meristematic cells are programmed will contribute to improving crop productivity.