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Plant Sciences  At the centre of Oxford University's research and teaching in plant sciences

Scientists discover a new biochemical pathway that may aid development of more resilient crop varieties 🌱 •

By manipulating the CHLORAD pathway, scientists in can modify how plants respond to their environment. For example, the plant’s ability to tolerate stresses such as high salinity can be improved.


The researchers from the Department of Plant Sciences hope that their results will open the way to new crop improvement strategies, which will be vital as we face the prospect of delivering food security for a population that is projected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050.


By the year 2050, the current level of food production must increase by at least 70% to meet the demands of a growing world population and shifting dietary preferences towards more animal products, while 38% of the world’s land and 70% of fresh water are already used for agriculture. Abiotic stresses, including drought, high and low temperatures, soil salinity, nutrient deficiencies, and toxic metals, are the leading cause of yield loss, decreasing crop productivity by 50–80% depending on the crop and geographical location.


Thus, developing stress-resistant crops that can have stable yields under stress conditions is an important strategy to ensure future food security. This need is particularly urgent considering the increased frequency of extreme weather conditions that accompany global climate change, which cause more severe environmental stresses, more frequent plant disease outbreaks, and reduced yield and harvest quality.


To read more, follow link in bio. #oxfordplants #oxfordbiology #oxforduniversity #arabidopsis #crop #agriculture #foodsecurity #chloroplasts

“Our countryside is in crisis actually, and we’ve got dramatic declines of even common things and especially with climate change, there’s no future proofing of our landscape.” - Dr Lindsay Turnbull.


To learn more about the re-wilding project led by Lindsay and DPhil student Chris Woodham, follow: http://bit.ly/2TFYnrW.


🎥: Oxford Thinking

VACANCY: Associate Professor of Plant Sciences this 🌱 •

Come and work with us here at Oxford University! We are looking for applicants with a strong background in plant cell biology to apply to be our new Associate Professor of Plant Sciences in Association with Wadham College.


Preference will be given to applicants with a strong background in plant cell biology, but applications from any individual whose research complements the existing profile of the Department would also be welcome. The successful candidate will be required to carry out research that will contribute to the Department’s research reputation; to teach, supervise and examine undergraduate and postgraduate research students; and to contribute to and participate in the administration of the Department. In the College they will have joint responsibility for admission, teaching, and pastoral care of students reading degrees in biology. They will play a role in the running of the College as a charity trustee and a member of its Governing Body.


For more information, and to apply by 25 April, follow link in bio.

Rachel’s roots research hits top ten 🌱 •

A research article by Rachel Wheatley (who did her DPhil with us) has been listed in FEMS Microbiology‘s top ten.


“Mechanisms of bacterial attachment to roots” was published in FEMS Microbiology Reviews last July. It was listed at number 8 of the articles making the biggest impact on the FEMS website. It is also the first article for which Rachel is the corresponding author.


📸 John Cairns, first published by University College Oxford.

April ‘Shines a Light’ at Queen’s College Oxford.


The ‘Shining a Light’ exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of the admission of women by the College, and features photography taken by John Pheasant of College members from the past four decades. The Department of Plant Sciences are delighted that both April and Professor Jane Langdale, CBE FRS are featured.


Of the exhibit, April said: “It is really a big honour, especially when reading about the other women in the exhibition including Plants own Jane Langdale. I certainly feel like I have a lot more to achieve before I truly deserve this but with a very challenging few months ahead I will do my best!”


To read more about ‘Shining a Light’ and April’s current Aldabra Clean Up project, visit queens.ox.ac.uk. #womeninstem

This week’s seminar was from Dr Maria Dornelas from the University of St Andrews, who presented her research on patterns of biodiversity change over time in the Anthropocene, using the bioTIME database. This database collates studies from across the globe that have recorded biodiversity levels over time, and contains >12.6 million records. In the face of high-profile research suggesting an unprecedented human driven impact on the world’s ecosystems, Dr Dornelas’ somewhat controversial work suggests that at the local level there is on average no biodiversity change over time. However, at this local scale they find a change in community composition, which could have implications for ecosystem function…


To read more, visit link in bio. Emily Warner is a DPhil Candidate in the Department through the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research.

Wishing everyone a wonderful festive season. Enjoy time off with friends, family and loved ones, and see you all back in 2019 🌟 •

📸 This photograph of a waxwing tucking into some red berries was taken by Heather Green – we think it’s a beaut!

Congratulations to Matilda Percy-Bowersox, Oxford Spires Academy (Year 7) who is the winner in the individual category of the #BeyondBoundaries art competition. •

Her work is titled ‘Bacteria', and is inspired by Vinoy Ramachandran's research.

Oxford students make their way to Illinois’ research fields 🌱 •

This summer, a new exchange programme allowed nine interns from the University of Oxford the opportunity to conduct research alongside highly qualified researchers and experience a different culture at the University of Illinois. Under the steer of Professor Steven Long, our biology undergraduate students spent a summer working on the RIPE and WEST projects.

• “I’ve become extremely invested in the RIPE project,” said Isla Causon, a RIPE summer intern. “The hope is for my data to become useful within the project for our long-term goal: to increase photosynthetic efficiency and boost crop yields.” •
• “I have been given a great amount of responsibility while working on my WEST project,” said Robert Collison. “I’ve been able to gain experience using technologies that I will be able to use throughout my degree and beyond.” •

For more, follow link in bio 🌱 Team photo: credit Claire Benjamin 🌱 Headshots L to R: Isla Causon, Robert Collison, Stephanie Cullum, Lulia Floristeanu, Pietro Hughes, Lucy Manukyan, Emma Raven, Aoife Sweeney, Freya Way.

What a lovely sight you are greeted with when walking into reception! Christmas has landed in the Department of Plant Sciences 🎄

#Plants400: Plant 260 Papaver rhoeas (corn poppy).


In Britain, the complex patterns of variation found in wild corn poppy populations, in features such as leaf shape, hairs and flower colour, are recognised in numerous variety and form names. One of these, var. wilksii, was named by Oxford botanist George Claridge Druce in honour of the Victorian prelate William Wilks. Wilks developed the Shirley poppy, a popular multicoloured garden plant, from multiple selections of Papaver rhoeas in his garden at Shirley, near Croyden.


#oxfordplants #oxfordbiology #oxforduniversity #herbaria #poppy

We’re proud to announce that @gardens_illustrated have identified ‘Sunflowers’ as one of their 12 Books of the Year! .
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The book was written by our Druce Curator, Professor Stephen Harris (Herbaria) and there’s a competition to win it, along with 11 other books!
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“Sunflowers are the most recognizable members of the world’s largest family of plants, Asteraceae, which includes lettuce, chrysanthemums, asters, dahlias and weeds. The sunflower family is found in almost all habitats, from the driest deserts through grasslands and the tallest mountains to urban wastelands, and includes more than 32,000 species. The family has become a part of our literary and visual cultures, inspiring artists such as Vincent van Gogh, and is used by advertisers to promote countless products. It produces hugely popular and economically valuable ornamental flowers, as well as familiar flavourings such as tarragon and artemisia, and sunflowers are also used in the production of antimalarial drugs, artificial sweeteners, insecticides and fish poisons.
Sunflowers unravels the interplay between the biology of sunflowers and human cultures over the last 6,000 years. It explores our fascination with the family and how our uses of the plants have changed over millennia. Illustrated with many rarely seen images of the sunflower family, this beautiful volume will appeal to those looking for a new, surprising perspective on familiar flowers.” - Professor Stephen Harris

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