Organisation of Research Activities

The Department possesses world-class strengths across the breadth of modern plant science. Research activity is unified under the theme of Genes, Genetics and Genomics.

Biochemistry and Systems Biology

Research in the Biochemistry and Systems Biology area investigates the cellular, metabolic and physiological basis of growth in plants and microbes. Research makes extensive use of transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and flux analysis, as well as modelling techniques. Group members have particular strengths in organelle biology, biotic and abiotic stress biology, primary carbon metabolism, and metabolic network analysis.

Cell and Developmental Biology

Research carried out in the area of Cell and Developmental Biology aims to understand how processes underlying plant cell function and development are regulated. Comparative analyses further investigate how these regulatory pathways have changed during the course of evolution. In dealing with the diversity of scale encountered in this research area – from the molecular to the organismal - most research groups employ a wide range of approaches, including mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, imaging and genetics.

Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Research in this area is focused on the origin, maintenance and demise of plant biodiversity, from sequences and genomes to populations, species and their interactions. The group possesses strengths in systematics, the evolution and population genetics of plant sexual systems, in molecular evolution of sex chromosomes and species divergence, and in the ecology of plant-animal interactions.

Fundamental research is carried out in three interlinked areas: Biochemistry and Systems Biology; Cell and Developmental Biology; Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. Research in each area depends to a greater or lesser extent on the use of four major technology platforms - spectroscopy, imaging, computational biology and high-throughput sequencing.

Translational research is carried out in the Plants for the 21st Century Institute (P21C) where distinct programs on Conservation, Crops and Trees build on fundamental research activities in the Department. P21C is affiliated with the Oxford Martin School.