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Dr Jo Hepworth

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Department of Biosciences


Research Focus

For PhD opportunities, see: (Home students only) (International students should contact me before the 11th December 2023 for this opportunity)

Consider a cabbage: always left out in the cold! Plants survive large changes in temperature that occur every day, season to season. One of their survival strategies is to change their shape in response to their environment. For example, they may time the production and number of flowering branches to coincide with particular seasons, or produce leaves of different shape depending on the temperature they are growing at.

I am a plant developmental geneticist, and I am fascinated by the diversity of plant form both between individual plants and in an individual over its lifecycle. My research focusses on how plants sense and integrate real-world information, particularly cool temperature information, at the molecular level to make developmental decisions about whole-plant morphology. Understanding these responses is critical to predict the impact of climate change on agriculture, ecological networks, and to promote food security. I work with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and with Brassica crops; Brassica rapa, Brassica oleracea and Brassica napus. These crops are grown in many different climates and come in wide variety of shapes, from turnips to pak choi in B. rapa, oilseed rape to kales in B. napus, and broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in B. oleracea. I am exploiting this wide phenotypic diversity to elucidate genetic pathways via multi-disciplinary approaches, including genetics, imaging, mathematical modelling, and both lab and field experiments.


Journal Article