Controlling gene regulation using epigenetics

In this research theme we are exploring how plant genomes are regulated and evolve to give rise to plant traits which are adapted to their environments for example by controlling their flowering time or response to stress.

Some of the methods of regulation we are investigating are beyond the codes of the genes themselves, a mechanism called epigenetics, which allows genes to be switched on and off in a manner that can be inherited. Our research has been improving the understanding of how this mechanism works.

Other ways of regulating of plant genomes is via large scale disruptions to the genome itself, for example caused by genome duplication which, as the name suggests, results in two or more copies of every gene.

Genome duplication can result in adaptation as the different copies of a gene can take on different roles through evolution.  How these complex duplicated genomes are regulated, interact and are inherited is something that we are exploring in our research.

This research is not only fascinating but also gives us insights into how plant traits are inherited and evolve through genome regulation. This in turn will help us to understand how we can use this information for breeding plants, including crops, which are better fitted to our changing environment and to some of the more extreme environments they may need to be able to cope with in the future.

Selected publications from ‘Controlling gene regulation using epigenetics’