The Plant Lab at the University of Bath groups together researchers involved in many aspects of plant biology.  Research themes encompass


-Evolution and conservation of plants,

-Tropical plant biotechnology and pathology,

-Plant-microbe interactions,

-Defense and hormone signalling,

-Algae and use of biomass, and

-Food security.

Algae Research & Biotechnology

 Microalgae are a very diverse group of species with many potential applications including the production of biofuels, pigments, protein for animal feed and industrial feedstocks.  Their large-scale culture could also help capture CO2 to combat climate change and to polish wastewater to reduce environmental damage.  Before algae can realize this potential a number of technical challenges must be overcome, such as thermo-tolerance, increased photosynthetic efficiency and reduced harvesting and product recovery costs.  These challenges are the focus of several projects in the lab.

Signalling & Defence Mechanisms

Plant diseases often result in 20-25% yield losses worldwide.  More durable and sustainable solutions than those in current use are required to address the issue of global food security.  Our research investigates the processes involved in diseases caused by microorganisms (essentially attack and defence) and where possible, how this knowledge can be applied to disease control

Evolution & Conservation

Significant changes in environmental conditions are expected in the near future, and a pressing question is whether organisms will be able to adapt to the new conditions.  To answer this question we combine knowledge of the genetic basis of traits under selection with knowledge of how natural selection acts on the genetic variation available to better understand the genetic basis of adaptation and plasticity under field and laboratory conditions

Seeds & Reproduction

Seeds are the most important agricultural product, accountig  for more than 70% of the world’s food supply.  Rising population and diminishing availability of arable land are pushing for the urgent improvement of crop yields and seed quality.  We are looking at many aspects of natural variation and genetic basis of seed traits.  We also use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to investigate  the genetic basis of the observed natural variation in hybridization barriers.

Tropical Biotech – Cassava

With the planet facing the interrelated crises of population, food, energy and climate, the need to increase global food production sustainably in order to achieve food security is of vital importance.  These crises are most acute in developing countries, most of which are located in the tropics.  To this end the genetic improvement of major tropical crops, such as cassava, for the benefit of farmers and consumers, together with the understanding and control of their principal pathogens are critical.