Research Fellows Directory
Professor Jim Murray
In the face of climate change and likely future water shortages, the world faces enormous challenges in meeting the demand for increased agricultural production to feed adequately the predicted world population. Increasing food production to this extent will require new approaches to engineer improved plants with increased yield and growth under conditions of environmental stress. Plants grow continuously, and the production of new cells is therefore central to plant growth. Whilst we understand quite a lot about how cells divide, we do not know much
about the controls that dictate when and where cell division takes place. We are seeking new ways to understand how this occurs, as well as the consequences ofchanges in cell division on overall plant growth and development. We are therefore tackling a multi-scale problem involving genes, cells, and growth of the
whole organism. If we can untangle the regulatory mechanisms that control cell division, and how they impact on the overall growth of the plant, we should then be able to predict how alterations at the level of the gene may affect the whole organism. Such a framework would be enormously powerful and allow us to
undertake engineering of plants for improved productivity in a more predictable way.