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Molecular Plant Sciences

Group Coordinator: Prof Keith Lindsey

Durham has a long-standing record of research in the plant sciences, and is currently supported by significant levels of external grant income from UKRI and industry, with world-leading publications.

Areas of particular research strength are: plant responses to environmental (biotic and abiotic) stresses; developmental biology, with a focus on genetic and epigenetic control of gene expression linked to the development of tissues and organ systems; and cell biology with an emphasis on membrane-cytoskeleton interactions and plant cell signalling, including understanding the architecture and regulation of gene-hormone and second messenger signalling systems.  An important feature of our research is its cross-disciplinary nature, fostered through the Durham Centre for Crop Improvement Technology; with industry; and with a range of UK and overseas academic institutions.

Academic Staff: Dr Tim HawkinsDr Jen Topping

Affiliated Members: Prof. Martin CannDr Wayne DawsonProf. Ehmke PohlProf. Nigel Robinson

Academic Members

Meet the group

Dr Ulrike Bechtold

Area of Expertise: Understanding plant stress responses
Ulrike Bechtold

Dr Adrian Brennan

Area of Research: Ecological Genetics

Dr Stephen Chivasa

Area of Research: Plant Molecular Biology & Algal Biology

Dr Peter Etchells

Area of Research: Plant Developmental Biology

Dr Elaine Fitches

Area of Research: Insect Biotechnology

Professor Patrick Hussey

Area of Research: The Plant Cytoskeleton

Professor Heather Knight

Area of Research: Plant response to abiotic stress

Professor Marc Knight

Area of Research: Stress Signalling in Plants

Professor Keith Lindsey

Area of Research: Plant Developmental Biology

Dr Junli Liu

Area of Research: Systems Biology

Dr Miguel de Lucas

Area of Research: Chromatin dynamics & plant development

Professor Ari Sadanandom

Area of Research: Plant Pathology

Recent Publications

Gu, X., Fonseka, K., Agneessens, J., Casson, S.A., Smertenko, A., Guo, G., Topping, J.F., Hussey, P.J. & Lindsey, K. (2021). The Arabidopsis R-SNARE VAMP714 is essential for polarization of PIN proteins and auxin responses. New Phytologist 230(2): 550-566.

Jacobsen, A.G.R., Jervis, G., Xu, J., Topping, J.F. & Lindsey, K. (2021). Root growth responses to mechanical impedance are regulated by a network of ROS, ethylene and auxin signalling in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist 231(1): 225-242.

Verma, Vivek, Srivastava, Anjil K., Gough, Catherine, Campanaro, Alberto, Srivastava, Moumita, Morrell, Rebecca, Joyce, Joshua, Bailey, Mark, Zhang, Cunjin, Krysan, Patrick J. & Sadanandom, Ari (2021). SUMO enables substrate selectivity by mitogen-activated protein kinases to regulate immunity in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118(10): e2021351118.

Gu, Xiaoyan and Brennan, Adrian and Wei, Wenbin and Guo, Guangqin and Lindsey, Keith (2020) Vesicle transport in plants: a revised phylogeny of SNARE proteins., Evolutionary bioinformatics., 16 

Chivasa, Stephen and Goodman, Heather L. (2020) Stress‐adaptive gene discovery by exploiting collective decision‐making of decentralised plant response systems., New phytologist., 225 (6). pp. 2307-2313.

Smit, M., McGregor, S., Sun, H., Gough, C., Bågman, A.-M., Soyars, C. L., Kroon, J. T. M., Gaudinier, A., Williams, C. J., Yang, X., Nimchuk, Z. L., Weijers, D., Turner, S. R., Brady, S. M. & Etchells, J. P. (2020). A PXY-Mediated Transcriptional Network Integrates Signaling Mechanisms to Control Vascular Development in ArabidopsisThe Plant Cell 32(2): 319-335.

Powell, M.E., Bradish, H.M., Cao, M., Makinson, R., Brown, A.P., Gatehouse, J.A. & Fitches, E.C. (2020). Demonstrating the potential of a novel spider venom based biopesticide for target-specific control of the small hive beetle, a serious pest of the European honey bee. Journal of Pest Science 93(1): 391-402.

Liu, Junli, Lenzoni, Gioia & Knight, Marc R. (2020). Design principles for decoding calcium signals to generate specific gene expression via transcription. Plant Physiology 182(4): 1743-1761.

Jackson, S.E., Vernon, I., Liu, J. & Lindsey, K. (2020). Understanding hormonal crosstalk in Arabidopsis root development via emulation and history matching. Statistical Applications in Genetics and Molecular Biology 19(2): 20180053.

Srivastava, Moumita, Srivastava, Anjil K., Orosa-Puente, Beatriz, Campanaro, Alberto, Zhang, Cunjin & Sadanandom, Ari (2020). SUMO Conjugation to BZR1 Enables Brassinosteroid Signaling to Integrate Environmental Cues to Shape Plant Growth. Current Biology 30(8): 1410-1423.e3.

Wang, Pengwei, Pleskot, Roman, Zang, Jingze, Winkler, Joanna, Wang, Jie, Yperman, Klaas, Zhang, Tong, Wang, Kun, Gong, Jinli, Guan, Yajie, Richardson, Christine, Duckney, Patrick, Vandorpe, Michael, Mylle, Evelien, Fiserova, Jindriska, Van Damme, Daniel & Hussey, Patrick J. (2019). Plant AtEH/Pan1 proteins drive autophagosome formation at ER-PM contact sites with actin and endocytic machinery. Nature Communications 10(1): 5132.

Panter, Paige E., Kent, Olivia, Dale, Maeve, Smith, Sarah J., Skipsey, Mark, Thorlby, Glenn, Cummins, Ian, Ramsay, Nathan, Begum, Rifat A., Sanhueza, Dayan, Fry, Stephen C., Knight, Marc R. & Knight, Heather (2019). MUR1-mediated cell-wall fucosylation is required for freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist 224(2): 1518-1531.

Exposito-Alonso, Moises and Brennan, Adrian C. and Alonso-Blanco, Carlos and Pico, F. Xavier (2018) Spatio-temporal variation in fitness responses to contrasting environments in Arabidopsis thaliana. Evolution., 72 (8). pp. 1570-1586.

Srivastava, Anjil Kumar, Orosa, Beatriz, Singh, Prashant, Cummins, Ian, Walsh, Charlotte, Zhang, Cunjin, Grant, Murray, Roberts, Michael R., Anand, Ganesh Srinivasan, Fitches, Elaine & Sadanandom, Ari (2018). SUMO Suppresses the Activity of the Jasmonic Acid Receptor CORONATINE INSENSITIVE1. The Plant Cell 30(9): 2099-2125.

Martínez, Cristina, Espinosa‐Ruíz, Ana, de Lucas, Miguel, Bernardo‐García, Stella, Franco‐Zorrilla, José M & Prat, Salomé (2018). PIF4‐induced BR synthesis is critical to diurnal and thermomorphogenic growth. The EMBO Journal 37(23): e99552.