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Department of Plant Sciences

The group investigates the roles of transport proteins in adaptation, nutrition and growth. We are particularly interested in roots and how they sense, then respond to changes in environmental conditions, including the presence of other plants. For this we concentrate on the plasma membrane and study the calcium channel proteins that can generate specific calcium signals governing adaptation and growth regulation. We have identified extracellular nucleotides as novel plant cell regulators. We are now exploring how they are perceived at the plasma membrane and how this relates to known effects on cell viability, growth, immune and stress responses. We are also interested in how calcium transporters at the plasma membrane might help control cell wall formation and re-modelling. Projects include:

Root-root interactions

We are examining the effects of blackgrass on wheat root growth but also testing it against more experimentally tractable model plants in mode of action studies that may influence breeding strategies.

Growth of root hairs and lateral roots

Calcium is essential for root hair and lateral root growth. Uptake is through channel proteins. We are investigating putative encoding genes to inform research on the production of bushier roots.

Extracellular ATP perception

Extracellular ATP regulates plant cell growth and adaptation. It signals to the cell by activation of calcium channels. There are no equivalents of animal ATP receptors in higher plant genomes and so identifying the mode of ATP perception in plants is central to understanding this network.

Ozone sensing

Ozone pollution is an increasing threat to UK agriculture. We have identified a protein that acts very early in the plant’s response to ozone. Its mode of action and downstream consequences are now being investigated to inform work on ozone-resistant  crops.

Joining the group

Contact Head of Group Professor Julia Davies if you're interested in joining the group or finding out more about the group's research.


turntable apparatus etc

From top: Turntable apparatus for root analysis; wheat root architecture; crystal structure of Arabidopsis annexin 1, a plasma membrane calcium channel involved in root growth.