We are primarily interested in trying to understand the molecular basis of how flowering is controlled by daylength (or photoperiod). The Arabidopsis day neutral flowering (dnf) mutant is one of the mutants that we have isolated and characterised. We showed that the DNF gene encodes an E3 ligase that regulates the expression of the CONSTANS gene and thus flowering time.
We are using the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology to gene-edit endogenous flowering genes in plants to enable us to manipulate thier flowering time.
We have done this in Arabidopsis, creating mutations in the endogenous FT gene which results in late flowering plants (eg. FT1_4, FT1_5 & FT1_K). The FT gene in the late flowering plant lines has had an Adenine residue inserted or deleted 3 nucleotides upstream of the PAM site.
We have used a Systems Biology approach to investigate and model transcriptional networks that operate within a specific leaf throughout its development. This involves transcriptional profiling of gene expression and subsequent modelling of the data to identify networks and nodal control genes for different pathways. The network modelling has been done together with the Warwick Systems Biology Centre.
Our group has well established links with industry, such as with Rijk Zwaan on lettuce bolting, and with Elsoms Seeds on a project looking at the regulation of flowering time in Rocket.