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25 February 2021 - 25 February 2021

1:00PM - 2:00PM


  • Free

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The Biosciences department runs two seminar series: Departmental seminars that cover a wide range of biological topics, and EEE seminars that cover topics related to Ecology, Evolution and Environment.

Speaker: Prof John Christie, University of Glasgow, UK

Host: Miguel de Lucas

About the speaker:

Light is, by far, the most important environmental factor for plants. Changes in light quality, quantity and duration regulate processes such as germination, flowering time or body shape. Our next seminar series speaker is Professor John Christie (University of Glasgow). Prof. Christie studies how plant photoreceptors convert photons of light into the molecular signals that govern plant physiological processes. Thanks to his research, we now understand how plants sense and respond (i.e., via phototropism) to the changes in Blue and UV light. Furthermore, Prof. Christie is a pioneer in the development and use of optogenetic tools, which allow a quantitative and non invasive control of gene expression. Recent research has demonstrate that optogenetic approaches can be used efficiently for the improvement of plant performance, including carbon assimilation, water use and biomass production. Due to the current socio-economical context and the increase in global warming-associated natural catastrophes, there has never been a more important time to investigate and develop new strategies to improve plant performance.,researchinterests,publications,articles

Some examples of Prof. Christie past and present research:

Hart JE, Sullivan S, Hermanowicz P, Petersen J, Diaz-Ramos LA, Hoey DJ, Łabuz J, Christie JM. Engineering the phototropin photocycle improves photoreceptor performance and plant biomass production. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jun 18;116(25):12550-12557. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1902915116. Epub 2019 Jun 3. PMID: 31160455; PMCID: PMC6589663.

Takemiya A, Sugiyama N, Fujimoto H, Tsutsumi T, Yamauchi S, Hiyama A, Tada Y, Christie JM, Shimazaki K. Phosphorylation of BLUS1 kinase by phototropins is a primary step in stomatal opening. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2094. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3094. PMID: 23811955.

Christie JM, Arvai AS, Baxter KJ, Heilmann M, Pratt AJ, O'Hara A, Kelly SM, Hothorn M, Smith BO, Hitomi K, Jenkins GI, Getzoff ED. Plant UVR8 photoreceptor senses UV-B by tryptophan-mediated disruption of cross-dimer salt bridges. Science. 2012 Mar 23;335(6075):1492-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1218091. Epub 2012 Feb 9. PMID: 22323738; PMCID: PMC3505452


Light is pivotal for directing plant growth and development. An excellent example is phototropism, the reorientation of plant growth toward or away from light. Positive phototropism (growth toward light) results from an accumulation of the phytohormone auxin on the shaded side of the stem and is mediated by blue-light activated Ser/Thr kinases known as the phototropins. Yet, it is still not known how photototopin activation leads to lateral auxin accumulation across the growing stem.. In this seminar I will discuss how light-driven phosphorylation and re-localisation of a central player holds the key to unlocking this mystery which has alluded plant biologist for over a century. I will also describe how optogenetic strategies based on the phototropin light switch are being harnessed to manipulate plant growth and offer additional opportunities to enhance photosynthetic competence

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