School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Plant Responses to Stress

Plant Responses to Stress

World population growth, climate change and the depletion of natural resources demand better and more sustainable food and non-food production systems.

We conduct research into the mechanisms underpinning plant responses to drought, salinity, nutrient limitation and pests/pathogens in order to inform the design of plants/crops that use resources (water, nutrients) more efficiently and to reduce reliance on unsustainable chemical pesticides.

Specific research approaches include:

  • unravelling the physiological and molecular components of CAM, a water-conserving mode of photosynthesis with the aim of engineering CAM into food and bioenergy crops to expand agriculture into semi-arid, marginal land
  • using functional genomics to identify stress response genes for molecular breeding of plants with enhanced resistance to insect pests/pathogens 
  • developing novel biopesticides to reduce reliance on unsustainable chemical pesticides.

Current projects

Engineering crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to improve plant water use efficiency
Project leaders: John Cushman (UNR), Anne Borland, James Hartwell (UL), Xiaohan Yang (ORNL)

The orchestration of starch degradation in CAM plants
Project leaders: Erin Casey, Anne Borland, Tahar Taybi, James Hartwell (UL)

Metabolic determinants of Crassulacean acid metabolism in tropical trees of the genus Clusia
Project leaders: Alastair Leverett, Anne Borland, Achim Treumann (Newcastle University Protein and Proteome Analysis)

The role of primary metabolism in stomatal regulation in CAM plants 
Project leaders: Natalia Hurtado, Anne Borland, Jerry Barnes, James Hartwell (UL)

Plant responses to stress