The mechanics of stomatal function

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Animal and Plant Sciences


Stomata consist of pairs of guard cells which change their shape as a result of altered internal pressure, leading to the opening/closing of pores to allow gas exchange essential for plant life. The dynamics of this shape change depend upon mechanical interaction of the guard cells with the surrounding epidermis, however most work in this area has focused on guard cells, ignoring the adjacent cells. The overall aim of the project is to investigate the role of the epidermis in setting the mechanics of stomatal opening/closure.
This project aims to characterise the cell wall components of epidermal cells and specialised subsidiary cells which adjoin the guard cells. We hope to identify genes that encode cell wall modifying proteins expressed in these cells and create transgenic plants in which expression of these genes is altered to modulate support cell mechanics. These plants will be studied to investigate the outcome of altered support cell mechanics on stomatal function and its consequence for plant water use efficiency. Using this knowledge, is it possible to engineer stomatal complexes to improve plant performance under future climate conditions of elevated carbon dioxide and restricted water availability?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
1946048 Studentship BB/M011151/1 30/09/2017 31/12/2021 Shauni McGregor