Genes in the Environment

Genes in the Environment aims to develop a wider and deeper understanding of how the environment influences plant growth and development.

The research of the BBSRC  funded Genes in the Environment ISP will be critically important for improving the stability of crop yields. Crop plants are strongly influenced by changes in weather and other environmental factors.

Under the influence of longer-term climate change, crop growing conditions are becoming more extreme.

This results in unpredictable supplies of important food crops, volatile markets and food prices, and in extreme cases, social unrest and famine. Our increasingly unpredictable climate coupled with forecasted population increases require radical changes in the scope and rate of improvement in crop productivity over the next few decades to secure food supplies.

By understanding key fundamental processes, such as how plants grow and shape themselves, flowering time and how they adapt to changing environmental conditions, we can help breed crops that are more resilient and productive in a wider range of growing conditions.

Our research is wide in scope because of the range of plants and environments that we will study including brassica crops, wheat and the experimental species, Arabidopsis and Capsella. Wheat and Brassica are the two main crops grown in the UK.

We aim to develop a deeper understanding of basic biological mechanisms occurring in plants, and understand how plant genes and genetic variation influence how the plant responds and adapts to challenging environments.

Examples of areas of research to be addressed by the Genes in the Environment ISP include:

  • Over-wintering responses that promote flowering
  • The mechanisms underlying chromatin-based gene regulation
  • The adaptation of plants to challenging environments
  • How meristem function is controlled in Arabidopsis
  • The sensitivity to temperature of pollen and egg formation in wheat
  • How pods grow and shape in oilseed rape.