Research Fellows Directory
Dr Pascal-Antoine Christin
University of Sheffield
I study the evolutionary history of plants, and especially the diversification of photosynthetic types. This includes C4 photosynthesis, a complex character composed of multiple anatomical and biochemical novelties that function together to improve the productivity of plants in warm and arid conditions. Despite its apparent complexity, the C4 trait has evolved more than 60 times independently in flowering plants, and C4 plants now dominate most open habitats in the tropics and subtropics. However, the evolutionary processes that cumulatively led to the emergence of C4 photosynthesis are still poorly understood. To address this issue, I study the variation in photosynthetic types that exists within some species complexes using a combination of genome and transcriptome analyses, plant anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, ecology and evolutionary tools. Ultimately, the goal of my research is to understood how minor changes can affect the phenotype and the ecology of the organisms, leading to their gradual assembly until traits of impressive complexity and major ecological importance emerge.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)