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Environmental regulation of crop productivity

   School of Biosciences

About the Project

Crop productivity is highly dependent on environmental conditions. Understanding the mechanisms by which plants respond to environmental signals will therefore allow us to select for climate resilient crops and improve global food security. Much of our current understanding of how plants respond to their environment has focused on the role of receptors. For example, families of photoreceptors, such as the Red/Far-red light perceiving phytochromes, initiate signaling events in response to changes in light conditions and temperature. However, our lab has recently shown that signals from the chloroplast play a major role in regulating plant-environmental responses and link the photosynthetic machinery to plant development. This project will expand on this work and examine how signals from the chloroplast shape plant responses to the environment. Using molecular methods such as gene expression analysis, transgenic plant analysis and high resolution imaging you will examine the mechanisms through which the chloroplast senses, responds and regulates plant development. Analysing these responses will provide targets for crop improvement and enhance resilience to environmental stress.

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

This position is for self funded or externally funded students only.

First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD, you must complete the University's application form using the following link: View Website

All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information.


Zoulias N, Rowe J, Thomson EE, Dabrowska M, Sutherland H, Degen GE, Johnson MP, Sedelnikova SE, Hulmes GE, Hettema EH, Casson SA (2021) Inhibition of Arabidopsis stomatal development by plastoquinone oxidation. Curr Biol. 31:5622-5632.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.018.
Zoulias, N., Brown, J., Rowe, J., & Casson, S. A. (2020). HY5 is not integral to light mediated stomatal development in Arabidopsis. PLoS ONE, 15(1):e0222480. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222480.
Casson SA, Hetherington AM. (2014) phytochrome B Is required for light-mediated systemic control of stomatal development. Curr Biol. 24:1216-21.doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.074.

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