Plants living on land face brutal threats from pests, dehydration and temperature. To survive and thrive, land plants evolved a waxy ‘cuticle’ and distinctive epidermal cells such as gas pores and defensive barbs. Further changes to the epidermis contribute to improved cereal performance on arid grasslands and play important roles in climate resiliency.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to global food production, leading to unpredictable weather patterns and geographical migration of pathogens. As sessile organisms, plants must respond to a changing environment in situ and have developed complex systems of perception and response to mitigate against environmental stress. As energy resources are finite plants must balance responses to pathogens and environmental stress with growth and developmental pathways. This can affect crop production if biomass or grain yield is supressed by environmental circumstances.
Aphids are economically important pests globally, and can cause significant yield loss of crops, including barley. Currently there are no commercial barley cultivars that are resistant against aphids, and only limited sources of partial resistance have been reported to date. As a consequence, control of aphids mainly relies on the use of insecticides.
Supervisors: Dr Martin Balcerowicz and Dr Sarah McKim, Division of Plant Sciences
Supervisors: Dr Piers Hemsley, Prof Paul Birch (University of Dundee, Division of Plant Sciences and Prof Terry Smith (University of St Andrews)