Research Seminar: Professor Alison Smith - John Innes Centre

26 November 2018, 1.00 PM - 26 November 2018, 2.00 PM

Professor Alison Smith hosted by Professor Alistair Hetherington

Life Sciences Seminar Room G13/G14


When darkness comes – what plants do at night


The night presents a complex challenge for a photosynthetic organism. If carbon starvation and consequent cessation of development and growth are to be prevented, plants must 1) set aside reserves during the day to provide a carbon supply at night, 2) control the rate of use of reserves at night to ensure that carbon is available until dawn, and 3) recognise when night is falling in order to make a smooth transition from photosynthesis to reserve mobilisation as the source of carbon. Prevention of carbon starvation also requires coordination of carbon demand by non-photosynthetic organs with carbon supply from the leaves over the day-night cycle.

My lab and collaborators are uncovering the mechanisms that control these features of carbon acquisition, partitioning and utilization in Arabidopsis, and thus buffer the supply of carbon against major diel fluctuations. Our work links the long-established pathways of starch synthesis and degradation to the circadian clock, and to newly discovered mechanisms that control the initiation of new starch granules on the thylakoid membrane. Intriguingly, our parallel work on grass species indicates that they may differ profoundly from Arabidopsis in the way in which diel carbon supply is controlled.

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Alison Smith

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