Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of Oxford
Dates: Oct 2015-Sep 2020
Summary: Photosynthesis is the primary energy source for life on earth. While the biochemistry and cell biology of photosynthesis are well understood, little is known of how the genes that mediate photosynthesis are regulated. My research aims to address this knowledge gap by identifying the molecular regulators and mechanisms that control the expression of photosynthesis genes in the world’s most important food crops.
Most modern-day plants have evolved to use approximately 5000 genes to convert light energy from the sun into sugars. These genes encode enzymes that catalyse the reactions as well as structural building blocks that are needed to make subcellular compartments where the light energy is captured and stored. This cohort of 5000 photosynthesis genes is dynamically regulated during plant development and in response to changing environmental conditions. Moreover, these genes have also been subject to a multitude of evolutionary modifications leading to a wide variety of plants with contrasting photosynthetic efficiencies. My research will use a combination of bioinformatics and experimentation to discover how photosynthesis genes are coordinately regulated, how this regulation has evolved in different species, and use this knowledge to help engineer higher yielding crops for the future.