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Molecular mechanisms of plant developmental plasticity

Gifford lab plant scienceGifford group members at work in the lab

Dr Miriam Gifford

Group Leader

miriam dot gifford at warwick dot ac dot uk

Dr Beatriz Lagunas

BBSRC-funded postdoctoral researcher

B dot Lagunas-Castan at warwick dot ac dot uk

Beth Richmond

MIBTP Life Sciences PhD student

B dot Richmond at warwick dot ac dot uk

Peter Morrison

Synthetic Biology CDT PhD student

P dot Morrison at warwick dot ac dot uk

Cantug Bar

Chancellors Scholarship PhD student

C dot Bar at warwick dot ac dot uk

Helen Wilkinson

MIBTP Life Sciences PhD student

Helen dot Willkinson at warwick dot ac dot uk

Dáire Carroll

WCPRS PhD student (joint with James Hutton Institute]

Daire dot Carroll at hutton dot ac dot uk

Proyash Roy

Commonwealth Scholarship PhD student

P dot Roy at warwick dot ac dot uk

Luke Richards BBSRC-Novozymes Biopharma UK Ltd CASE PhD student (joint with Patrick Schäfer and Orkun Soyer) L dot Richards at warwick dot ac dot uk
Research in Plant & Crop Science, Biotechnology, Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology
Nodulation: legumes can work with symbiotic bacteria to gain nitrogen, why can't all plants?

Unlike most plants, legumes (such as peas and beans) are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen (nodulation), so break the agricultural dependency on expensive and environmentally costly nitrogen fertilisers. If we understand the molecular basis of why legumes nodulate but other plants don't we could improve nitrogen-use efficiency in our crops. This would improve food security, a major research priority and one within the agri-tech strategy remit.

What contribution does each cell type of the root make to the whole root response to nitrogen?

We use Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) combined with genomics to measure the gene expression of all regulatory pathways and interpret them in the context of root phenotypes. This is critical since nodules develop from a specific root cell type and root environmental responses have a high degree of cell specificity. We also want to investigate how rhizobial responses (nodulation) intersect with responses to other mutualists in the rhizosphere to improve plant productivity.

Molecules that work in specific cell types can help to trigger specialised responses - synthetic biology.

Application of cell type analysis can help distinguish genes that act in specific locations and under specific conditions. We can use this to predict which promoters and genes could be engineered to enable new functions, including altered plant disease responses and altered mutualistic responses (Theme 4 SynEffectors in the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre).

Lab Alumni:

MScs and MBios:

Will Macnair (Systems Biology MSc project student) - PhD with Prof. Manfred Claassen (University of Zurich)

Waqar Yousaf (MBio project student) - PGCE study and Teacher training


Dr Tim Coker (Data Research Assistant, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; now at CRUK)

Dr Roxanna Bonyadi (Chancellor's International Scholarship PhD student)

Dr Anthony Carter (EPSRC Systems Biology PhD student) - Statistician in the UK Civil Service

Dr Jo Hulsmans (Cypress Diagnostics, Belgium)

Dr Matt Teft (Public Science Engagement, now Postdoctoral fellow, Sena Lab Imperial College UK)

Dr Mingkee Achom (Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, USA)

Research staff:

Dr Zennia Paniwynk (Defra Post-doc) - Scientist at Quanta Fluid Solutions (UK)

Dr Jesper Grønlund (BBSRC Post-doc) - Gene Discovery Manager at Advanced Technologies Cambridge (BAT, UK)

Dr Sajjad Awan (Defra Post-doc) - Post-doc with Prof. Bill Finch-Savage (Life Sciences, Warwick, UK)

Sanjeev Kumar (BBSRC Research technician) - Technician with Prof. David Twell (Leicester, UK), now at VWR

Dr Sally Adams (Post-doc) - Post-doc with Dr Andre Pires da Silva (Life Sciences, Warwick, UK)

Dr Ying Wang (BBSRC Post-doc) - Post-doc (Germany)

Dr. Dhaval Patel (BBSRC Post-doc) - Scientist at Azotic Technologies Ltd (Nottingham, UK)

Dr. Dafyd Jenkins (BBSRC Post-doc) - Data scientist at TATA (Coventry, UK)

Dr. Fraz Hussain (BBSRC Senior Technician) - Technician with Prof. Murray Grant (Warwick, UK)

Latest lab research news:

March 22nd: Review paper on NCRs accepted today! Read it free here! We love legumes!

WATCH Miriam talks about research in the lab to 'IGGY Meets...'

WATCH our JOVE cell sorting video!

Images from our work:

Hpa oomycete infecting Arabidopsis leaf - Hpa haustoria in cells are stained blue:Hpa infection

Our New Phytologist Cell type specific proteomics workshop:

Protoplast generation workshop