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Dr Stéphanie M Swarbreck

Dr Stéphanie M Swarbreck
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 330218


I obtained my PhD from Lancaster University and Rothamsted Research in 2005. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (California), I was awarded an EU Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant and joined the Ion Transport Group at Cambridge. This work was also funded by the Newton Trust, University of Cambridge and the Gatsby Charitable Fundation. In 2013, I was awarded a Broodbank Fellowship.

Research Interests

Variations in water and nutrient availability, plus interactions with neighbouring plants and microorganisms in the soil are particularly relevant to plant fitness in the field and have been the main focus of my work to date. Over the past six years, I have gained experience studying plants grown in a range of environments (from a sterile agar plate to the field) in collaboration with scientists from different disciplines. This experience has been critical in shaping the basic ideas underlying my research.

My current project in the Ion Transport Group investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying agriculturally relevant root to root interactions between commercial varieties of wheat and a competing weed. The focal weed species is black grass (Alopecurus myosuroides) since a low density of this species (< 20 plants/m2) can lead to a 5% decrease in wheat yield and herbicide resistance is problematic in the UK. Thus far I have worked towards (1) establishing robust systems to investigate root to root interactions, (2) testing the role of selected compounds in root to root interactions and (3) conducting initials investigation on the mechanism of detection and response to root exudates, especially focusing on the role of Ca2+.

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.