Professor Nicholas Harberd FRS
Nick Harberd is a plant scientist who has uncovered the complex system of signals by which plants regulate their growth in relation to changes in their environment. He applied his findings to the genetics of crop varieties developed for the ‘green revolution’ and continues to work on new ways to feed a hungry world.
Plant hormones called gibberellins stimulate growth in plants. Using the fast-growing weed Arabidopsis thaliana as his model, Nick showed that they suppress the action of a family of growth-restricting proteins, thus explaining the high yield of dwarf strains of wheat.
More recently, Nick has worked on the response of Arabidopsis to salty soils, aiming to develop crop varieties with improved salt tolerance. His major current research interest is the relationship between plant growth and nutritional metabolism, with a view to developing strategies to improve crop yields using less fertiliser. In 2006, he published Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants, an accessible account of his quest to understand the natural world.
Interest and expertise
- Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Plant genetics, Plant growth and development