Dr James Locke
Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Plants grow in a variable and noisy environment, including fluctuating light, nutrients and temperature. Plants also have a noisy internal environment; genetically identical cells can display noisy, or variable, gene expression. My lab is interested in how plants can either minimise or amplify the effects of their noisy internal and external environment. First, we use the plant circadian clock as a model system to understand how genetic circuits can be robust to noise. Second, we are studying how plant gene networks may amplify small differences in the external and internal environment to generate phenotypic variability. For all this work we examine gene expression in individual cells or individual plants, rather than at the level of populations of plants, in order to avoid the dynamics being averaged away.