Andrew Millar discovered networks of ‘clock genes' that form the 24-hour, biological clock in plants. The clock regulates growth and metabolism through rhythmic, daily activity of the clock genes. He then revealed an evolutionarily older clock in a marine alga, which can operate independently of clock genes. With several collaborators, he showed that this so far unexplained circadian clockwork probably ticks away in other species also, including humans.
Andrew’s team labelled clock genes of the laboratory model plant Arabidopsis thaliana with the bioluminescent protein luciferase, so that the plants glowed in synchrony with the genes’ activity. Conducting similar experiments in the alga Ostreococcus tauri, he found that a clock continued to function even when gene activity was suppressed.
Millar aims to discover the mechanism and function of biological clocks, including the non-genetic rhythm that has caused circadian biologists to rethink their assumptions. Taking a systems approach to his data, he has constructed models of the complex feedback circuits through which living organisms control their activity in night and day, and thus optimise growth.
Professor of Systems Biology, School Of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh
Associate Director, SynthSys, University of Edinburgh
Interests and expertise
Plant Signaling Networks,