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Plant Science Seminar - Prof. Brian Forde

Start Date: March 22, 2016
End Date: March 22, 2016

​​SPEAKER: Prof​. Brian Forde
INSTITUTE: Lancaster University​
TITLE: ​Using small molecules (and a robot) to uncover environmental signalling pathways in roots
DATE: Tuesday March 22, 2​016
TIME: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Lecture Hall Level 0 · between Buildings 2 & 3

Roots are exquisitely sensitive to a wide range of abiotic factors in their environment, including organic and inorganic nutrients, salinity, heavy metals and water potential. The ability to sense and integrate these environmental signals, combined with the remarkable plasticity of root development, play a large part in determining the architecture of the root system and therefore its ability to perform its essential functions of acquiring water and nutrients from the soil. A better understanding of the molecular basis of these signalling pathways could help towards the development of more efficient and resilient crop varieties.  Chemical genetics uses small molecules to perturb biological processes and offers a number of important advantages over conventional genetics for probing gene function. However, technical problems have previously hindered its application to root biology. To overcome this barrier we have recently developed a novel microphenotyping system for Arabidopsis that allows the detailed phenotyping of root (and shoot) development in a 96-well format suitable for chemical genetic screens. Examples of how this technique is already contributing to our understanding of how roots respond to nutritional signals and drought stress will be presented, along with progress in a multidisciplinary project to develop an automated high-throughput version of the technology (the ‘Microphenotron’).

Brian Forde is currently Professor of Environmental Plant Biotechnology at Lancaster University. He obtained his PhD in Plant Biochemistry from Queen’s University Belfast in 1974 and had post-doctoral positions in Austria and Edinburgh before joining (what was then) Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1979, where he spent 20 years as a research scientist. He joined Lancaster University in 1999. His primary research interests are focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of root development by different reduced forms of nitrogen and other environmental factors. He has published over 120 research articles and reviews.