We live in a changing world, with climate change and a rapidly increasing human population acting as synergistic pressures that challenge our ability to provide an adequate food supply. Arable crops experience a variety of stresses during their life cycles that if uncorrected lead to reduced yields. Many of these abiotic stresses are most likely to occur during certain periods of day. For example, heat stress is typically experienced during the mid-afternoon whereas frost damage is associated with cooling that occurs overnight. Plants have evolved several strategies to mitigate these effects including the coupling of stress responses to the circadian clock. This molecular oscillator provides an internal timing reference that also coordinates developmental and physiological processes such as growth, chlorophyll synthesis and flowering time in plants. The coordination of these molecular and physiological processes with the external environment confers an adaptive advantage in higher plants.
Our lab investigates how light signals from the environment and the circadian clock interact with the ultimate goal of minimizing crop loss in adverse conditions.