Malcolm Bennett is a plant biologist. His research focuses on the ’hidden half of plants,’ exploring how roots grow, develop and adapt to their soil environment. His group has characterised many of the regulatory signals, genes and molecular mechanisms that control root growth and developmental responses. Highlights include identifying the first transport protein for the plant hormone auxin termed AUX1 which controls root angle, and elucidating how roots preferentially grow and branch towards water availability using hydrotropic and hydropatterning responses.
Malcolm’s team is translating knowledge about genes and signals regulating key root traits such as angle, depth and branching to re-engineer root architecture and improve crop yields. To uncover new root traits determining water and nutrient use efficiency in crops, Malcolm and collaborators have pioneered efforts to non-invasively image roots in soil using X-ray based microCT by creating the Hounsfield Facility, an unique root phenotyping platform integrating robotics, CT scanners and image analysis software.
Malcolm’s research has attracted awards including a Wolfson Research Fellowship and election to EMBO, and is ranked in the most highly cited animal and plant biologists.
Professor of Plant Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham
Interest and expertise
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Agricultural and forest science, Plant sciences / botany, Soil science