The over-arching theme of the research in our group is to understand how the environment shapes plant development. To achieve this aim we utilise two study organisms; the model plant, thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and the tuber crop, potato (Solanum tuberosum).
The work of the group can be roughly divided into different research areas, but many projects span between these subjects. The main research areas are as follows:
Potatoes are one of the worlds major crops. Our group has been responsible for several breakthroughs in our basic understanding of how tubers are formed. Notable discoveries concern the conservation the CONSTANS-FT signalling module in potato and the role of SPA6A in the regulation of storage organ formation.
Light and temperature signalling:
In our group we have a number of projects involving light and temperature signalling. Our work on arabidopsis aims to uncover the fundamental cellular processes that underlie these signal pathways, particularly though phytochrome B and PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4). In potato, one of our main research areas is the temperature-mediated control of tuberisation.
One of the most important factors gating cellular processes is the circadian clock. Work in our group largely focuses on ELF3, a component of the 'evening complex'. ELF3 acts as a strong repressor of PIF4 and in doing so, restricts elongation grown in the early evening. Several projects in our group aim to understand the interplay between light, temperature and the clock.
Hormone integration and stress tolerance:
There are multiple levels of cross-talk between plant hormone signalling pathways. Our group has discovered notable points of connection between gibberellic acid, brassinosteroid and light signals. We are currently investigating the hormonal control of stress tolerance. One of our aims is to engineer DELLA proteins in order to uncouple their growth-restriction and stress protection functions. Another project in our group is investigating the gating of ABA-responses through the clock.