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1 FUNCT Functional Plant Biology

1. Research Domain
FUNCT Functional Plant Biology
1.1 Temperature sensing in plants
1.2 Plant metabolism
1.3 Root-Shoot-Interactions
2. Research Domain
MICRO Plant-Microbe Systems
3. Research Domain
QUALITY Plant Quality and Food Security
4. Research Domain
HORTSYS Next-Generation Horticultural Systems

 

Head of PA FUNCT: Prof Philip A. Wigge

This programme area seeks to understand how plants sense and respond to their environment. The remarkable ability of plants to adapt to their environment reveals fundamental biological principles, and is a multi-scale problem, from molecular signalling mechanisms to the behaviour of cells and tissues to the level of plant populations. In a horticultural context, plant adaptation is key for understanding how yield is affected by different stresses, and plant breeding has favoured particular traits in the spread of many crops around the world. There is therefore a rich opportunity to exploit both models and horticultural species such as the Solanaceae to understand fundamental mechanisms and to gain important insights into breeding favourable traits.

 

Plant adaptation is a broad area, and work in the department is focussed on three key aspects: (1) How do plants sense and integrate temperature information into their development? (2) What is the role of metabolism in responding to biotic and abiotic stress? (3) How is communication between the roots and shoots mediated? Work in the department is interdisciplinary, using a wide-range of approaches including induced genetic screens, natural variation, proteomics, gene expression analysis and bioinformatics. We have in-house next generation sequencing capability, which greatly facilitates genome-wide analysis of transcription factor binding and gene expression programmes. We welcome applications from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in joining the department.

 

1.1 Temperature sensing in plants

Temperature is one of the major factors determining the distribution and behaviour of plants globally. Plants have evolved highly sensitive temperature sensing mechanisms, and recent climate change has already altered the flowering time of wild plants.

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1.2 Plant metabolism

In order to devise rational strategies to improve stress tolerance of crop plants, it is mandatory to deeply understand the cellular and molecular events during plant responses to abiotic and biotic stress.

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1.3 Root-Shoot-Interactions

Vegetable grafting has been introduced into horticultural practice about two decades ago and is now a widely used method to improve the performance of a variety of horticultural crops.

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