Dr Christine Faulkner

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

Christine works on cell to cell communication in plants and its role in plant-pathogen relationships.  She investigates the intercellular channels, plasmodesmata, through which small molecules pass between cells.

Christine uses live plant cell imaging as part of her research and develops image analysis tools to decipher the results, to understand a plant’s signalling and defence responses when under attack by a pathogen.   

  • Intercellular communication in plants
  • Pathogen defence responses in plants, regulated by plasmodesmata
  • Live cell imaging and development of image analysis tools


In multicellular organisms, whole tissues and organs must respond in a co-ordinated fashion to environmental and developmental stimuli.

Most plant cells are connected to their neighbours by dynamic channels called plasmodesmata which allow and regulate the flux of molecules and information between cells, facilitating intercellular communication.

Research in the Faulkner lab focuses on how intercellular communication regulates responses to pathogens. They aim to dissect the mechanisms by which plasmodesmata open and close to control defence associated domains of communication and intercellular flux.

Beyond this, they also investigate how plasmodesmata-defined symplastic domains regulate different defence responses with respect to both PAMP-triggered and effector-triggered responses, as well as systemic acquired resistance.

Control of cellular defence by the regulation of plasmodesmata offers new strategies to enhance defence responses, as well as to impair the infection of pathogens such as viruses and some fungi that exploit plasmodesmata to establish infection.

Viral probe gives ringside view of cell-to-cell combat

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Dr Christine Faulkner awarded Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council

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Five new Project Leaders join the John Innes Centre

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Recent Publications

Rosas-Diaz T., Zhang D., Fan P., Wang L., Ding X., Jiang Y., Jimenez-Gongora T., Medina-Puche L., Zhao X., Feng Z., Zhang G., Liu X., Bejarano E. R., Tan L., Zhang H., Zhu J. K., Xing W., Faulkner C., Nagawa S., Lozano-Duran R. (2018)

A virus-targeted plant receptor-like kinase promotes cell-to-cell spread of RNAi.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1715556115

Christine F., Zhou J., Evrard A., Bourdais G., MacLean D., Häweker H., Eckes P., Robatzek S. (2017)

An automated quantitative image analysis tool for the identification of microtubule patterns in plants.

Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark) 11 p109-117

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tra.12505

Xu B., Cheval C., Laohavisit A., Hocking B., Chiasson D., Olsson T. S. G., Shirasu K., Faulkner C., Gilliham M. (2017)

A calmodulin-like protein regulates plasmodesmal closure during bacterial immune responses.

New Phytologist tbd ptbd

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/nph.14599

Faulkner C., Bayer E. M. (2016)

Isolation of Plasmodesmata.

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6533-5_15

Faulkner C. (2015)

A cellular backline: specialization of host membranes for defence.

Journal of Experimental Botany advance access perv021

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erv021

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Christine Faulkner

  • Cecilia Marie Michel Cheval Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Diana Papp Postdoctoral Scientist


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