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:

cassonsDr Stuart Casson


Room: E7b
Tel: 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.

gilmourjDr Jim Gilmour

Senior Lecturer

Room: F3a
Tel: 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.

grayjProfessor Julie Gray

Professor of Molecular Genetics

Room: C34b
Tel: 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.

hortonpEm Prof Peter Horton FRS

Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry

Tel: 07714 202652

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

hunternProfessor Neil Hunter FRS

Krebs Chair in Biochemistry

Room: E14a
Tel: 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.

johnsonmDr Matt Johnson

Reader in Biochemistry

Room: E6a
Tel: 0114 222 4418

Photosynthetic dynamics; covering key apsects of thylakoid membrane organisation, membrane protein structure, light harvesting and electron transfer regulation and biommimetic photosynthetic systems.