My research seeks to understand how plants perceive and respond to changes in their environment, with the ultimate goal of using this knowledge to promote stress tolerance in crop plants. To achieve this we are using traditional molecular biology techniques in combination with the latest advances in synthetic biology to manipulate how light signals are integrated into the circadian system.
A more detailed CV can be found here
My PhD research aims to provide a glimpse into how plants adapt to stress occurring as a result of changes in their environment, and how these stress responses interlink with the circadian clock. Of particular interest to me is the role played by Reactive Oxygen Species - compounds that accumulate in plants under high light and heat stress that are toxic to plant cells, but are known to act as signal molecules influencing the transcription of genes.
With the use of a biosensor and confocal imaging we hope to visualise when and in which part of the plant cell ROS accumulate in response to stress at different times of the day. Furthermore, molecular and high-throughput sequencing techniques will be used to indicate if these ROS act as signals that regulate genes linked to the circadian clock.
As sessile photoautotrophs, plants are amongst the organisms most sensitive to, and influenced by, changes in their surrounding light conditions. Using photoreceptors found naturally in cyanobacteria we will engineer new light sensitive pathways in plants allowing for direct control of targeted genes using light as a trigger. Using this system we will examine the interactions between the plant circadian clock and genes involved in maintaining circadian rhythms.
Eloise McCarthy (Royal Society of Biology Undergraduate Scholar)
Summer Rosonovski (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme)