Prof Richard Morris

Programme Leader (Plant Health)
Computational and Systems Biology

Richard’s research uses mathematical modelling and computational approaches to solve problems in biology.

Much of Richard’s research focus is on signalling, building models to explain the data and make predictions which can be tested experimentally.

Richard develops models and associated software to explain how plants transfer a signal through the plant following an environmental cue, to initiate developmental changes.

His research also helps to investigate flowering time, plant-microbe interactions and biomechanical processes. 

  • Mathematical modelling to understand biomechanical processes
  • Revealing potential signalling processes using modelling techniques
  • Understanding plant-microbe interactions


Plants can undergo striking developmental changes in response to biotic stimuli. The group are interested in how the signaling and information flow is established between plants and microbes and in particular how the subsequent mechanical and developmental changes are coordinated. 

They employ mathematical and computational methods to help understand plant-microbe interactions. 

Main themes include calcium oscillations (1) and plant biomechanics (2)

1 - Legumes enter mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships with microbes to aid their nutritional demands. Calcium oscillations have been shown to be key for the activation of developmental changes associated with both bacteria and fungi. They wish to understand how these important signals and encoded and decoded

2 - Stomata are pores formed by specialised cells on the leaf epidermis through which plants acquire carbon dioxide, release oxygen and evaporate water. Plants close stomata in the presence of pathogens to prevent infection. The group wish to understand how plants control this biomechanical closure

Changing of the guard - research sheds light on how plants breathe

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Selected Publications

Calderwood A., Kopriva S., Morris R. J. (2016)

Transcript Abundance Explains mRNA Mobility Data in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Plant Cell 28 p610-5

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.15.00956

Jaeger K. E., Pullen N., Lamzin S., Morris R. J., Wigge P. A. (2013)

Interlocking feedback loops govern the dynamic behavior of the floral transition in Arabidopsis.

Plant Cell 25 p820-33

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.113.109355

Granqvist E., Wysham D., Hazledine S., Kozlowski W., Sun J., Charpentier M., Vaz Martins T., Haleux P., Tsaneva-Atanasova K., Downie J. A., Oldroyd G. E., Morris R. J. (2012)

Buffering capacity explains signal variation in symbiotic calcium oscillations.

Plant Physiology 160 p2300-2310

Publisher’s version: 10.1104/pp.112.205682

Sambade A., Pratap A., Buschmann H., Morris R. J., Lloyd C. (2012)

The influence of light on microtubule dynamics and alignment in the Arabidopsis hypocotyl.

Plant Cell 24 p192-201

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.111.093849

Recent Publications

Woolfenden H. C., Baillie A. L., Gray J. E., Hobbs J. K., Morris R. J., Fleming A. J. (2018)

Models and Mechanisms of Stomatal Mechanics.

Trends in Plant Science 23 p822-832

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.06.003

Jones D. M., Wells R., Pullen N., Trick M., Irwin J. A., Morris R. J. (2018)

Spatio-temporal expression dynamics differ between homologues of flowering time genes in the allopolyploid Brassica napus.

Plant Journal

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tpj.14020

Morris R. J. (2017)

On the selectivity, specificity and signalling potential of the long-distance movement of messenger RNA.

Current Opinion in Plant Biology 43 p1-7

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.pbi.2017.11.001

Carter R., Woolfenden H., Baillie A., Amsbury S., Carroll S., Healicon E., Sovatzoglou S., Braybrook S., Gray J. E., Hobbs J., Morris R. J., Fleming A. J. (2017)

Stomatal Opening Involves Polar, Not Radial, Stiffening Of Guard Cells.

Current Biology 27 p2974-2983.e2

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.006

Evans M. J., Morris R. M. (2017)

Chemical agents transported by xylem mass flow propagate variation potentials.

Plant Journal 91 p1029-1037

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tpj.13624

View All

Richard Morris

  • Dr Jitender Cheema Senior Scientist
  • Matthew Evans Postgraduate Student
  • Marc Jones Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Nick Pullen Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Teresa Vaz Martins Postdoctoral Training Fellow
  • Dr Hugh Woolfenden Postdoctoral Scientist


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