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Dr Keara Franklin

Dr Keara Franklin

Dr Keara Franklin
BSc(Bristol), MRes(Wales), PhD(Soton)


Area of research

Plant Environmental Signalling

Office Life Sciences: 304
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41180


My group's research investigates the molecular mechanisms through which plants integrate light and temperature signals to regulate growth and development.

Shade Avoidance

Light signals, perceived by the red/ far-red (R/FR) light– absorbing phytochrome family of plant photoreceptors are amongst the most important environmental cues regulating plant development. A particularly important role of the phytochromes involves detection of the presence of neighbouring vegetation by sensing changes in the quality of reflected/transmitted light. The interaction of daylight with living vegetation leads to a relative depletion in red (R) wavelengths and a relative enrichment in far-red light (FR) wavelengths. These changes in light quality (reduced R:FR ratio) are detected by the phytochromes and, in many plant species, lead to dramatic elongation growth of stems and alterations in leaf morphology. Such responses (termed the shade avoidance syndrome) serve to elevate leaves towards unfiltered daylight and provide an essential survival strategy in rapidly growing populations. We are currently investigating how shade avoidance responses are inhibited by UV-B and applications of this inhibition response for glasshouse horticulture.

Shade Avoidance

Light and Temperature Signal Integration

A primary research interest of the group is the interaction between light quality and temperature signalling pathways in the regulation of plant architecture. We have shown that some shade avoidance responses of the model species, Arabidopsis thaliana, are modulated by ambient growth temperature and have identified a number of genes which are regulated by phytochrome in a temperature-dependent manner. These include the CBF regulon of genes involved in cold acclimation and freezing tolerance. We have also established that the phytochrome-interacting factor PIF4 functions as a key regulator of plant architectural responses to elevated temperature, thereby operating as a central hub of light and temperature signal integration. We are currently investigating how high temperature is sensed and how UV-B signals interact with temperature signals to control plant growth and development.

Thermal image of Arabidopsis


2015- present: Reader, University of Bristol.

2012-2015: Senior lecturer, University of Bristol.

2010-2012: Lecturer, University of Bristol.

2006- 2014: Royal Society University Research Fellow.

2006- 2010: Lecturer, University of Leicester.

2003: HFSP Fellow, Plant Gene Expression Centre, Albany, CA, USA.

2002-2006: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Leicester.

1998-2001: Ph.D. University of Southampton.

1997-1998: M.Res. Advanced Plant Science, University of Wales.

1994-1997: B.Sc. (Hons) Biology, University of Bristol.

My research career started in the field of plant photobiology with a PhD at the University of Southampton, UK (supervised by Matthew Terry). Here, my work focussed on the biochemistry of plant light perception. This was followed by a postdoctoral position in the lab of Professor Garry Whitelam (University of Leicester, UK) and a short HFSP fellowship in the lab of Professor Peter Quail (Plant Gene Expression Centre and U.C Berkely, USA). This work focussed on the roles of phytochrome photoreceptors and plant shade avoidance responses. In 2006, I was simultaneously awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship and lectureship at the University of Leicester. In 2010, I moved to the University of Bristol and was awarded both The Society of Experimental Biology (SEB) President’s Medal in Plant Science and the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology (FESPB) Award.


I coordinate and teach on the level 2 courses 'Cell and Developmental Biology' and 'Green Planet' and the level 3 course 'Plant Environmnetal Adaptation'. I additionally supevise 3rd year library and research projects.


  • Plant Photomorphogenesis
  • Phytochrome
  • Shade avoidance
  • Thermomorphogenesis
  • PIF4
  • UV-B
  • UVR8


  • Plant Physiology
  • Gene expression
  • Protein expression

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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