Speeding towards efficient stomata

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Molecular Biology and Biotechnology


We all understand that plants have stomata that can open and shut. This lets
plants control their water loss, and led to them 'greening the Earth' half a billion
years ago, thus paving the way for animals. Since then some plants have
evolved stomatal features that allow them to close their stomata faster when
they encounter drying environments. For example, ferns have 'slow stomata'
and the later evolving grasses have 'speedy stomata'. These speedy stomata
have equipped grasses to conquer dry savannah and desert environments, and
have led to our selection of cereals as major food crops. Surprisingly, despite
our reliance on 'speedy stomata' for food security, we know little about the
molecular underpinnings of stomatal efficiency. In this project, for the first time,
the student will use infrared gas exchange to quantify stomatal efficiency and
compare this between plant groups, and between crops and their wild relatives.
These will be compared with cell wall immunocytochemical and RNAseq
transcriptome studies to pinpoint the key genetic, developmental, and structural
traits that underpin improved stomatal efficiency. The knowledge gained will be
invaluable in designing crops better suited to more frequent drought periods.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
2283110 Studentship BB/M011151/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Robert Brench