Phenotypic Plasticity in Response to Environmental Changes

The ‘Phenotypic Plasticity in Response to Environmental Changes’ theme aims to understand how a rise in temperature affects how a plant’s genome is regulated and how this regulation affects plant growth and development.

This knowledge can be used to identify how variations at individual gene level can help adapt crops to future growing conditions and improve yield stability in unstable growing conditions and has three objectives;

Integrating Growth Responses to Temperature and Pathogens (Boden, Ding, Kumar, Østergaard, Sablowski)

This objective aims to understand the mechanisms of temperature perception in Arabidopsis and identify how temperature influences key developmental processes (meristem maintenance and transitions, fruit development and dehiscence, balance between growth and defence) in model species and crops (Brassica and wheat). We will integrate temperature perception and developmental regulation by revealing the molecular links between developmental regulators (e.g. DELLA proteins) and temperature response mechanisms (e.g. changes in chromatin and RNA structure).

The Role of FLC in Responses to Seasonal Temperature Regimes. (Dean, Irwin, Penfield)

We will determine the contribution of FLC allelic variation to temperature perception and response in Arabidopsis and Brassica and the mechanism of influence of causative SNPs on temperature perception and epigenetic memory. We will characterise the phenotypic consequences and ecological significance of the dynamics of COOLAIR transcription and FLC silencing in Arabidopsis under fixed and fluctuating temperature regimes and translate this knowledge to Brassica. We will also establish how FLC and COOLAIR affect seed quality and seed size in Brassica species.

Influence of Temperature on Meiosis and Gametogenesis in Arabidopsis and Wheat (Bomblies, Feng, Moore, Shaw, Yant)

We aim to understand the nature of thermal failures in meiosis and study how thermostability can evolve in tolerant populations. We will establish the molecular basis of existing natural variation in meiotic thermotolerance in A. thaliana and A. arenosa, identifying and characterising genes that can confer temperature tolerance. We will determine whether known effects of temperature on recombination and temperature failure thresholds are functionally related and study the mechanisms of thermostability in meiosis to prepare for increasing climate volatility.