We are circadian photobiologists- we seek to understand how plants respond to light colour/duration/intensity/timing so that we can control crop yield and quality. Plants perceive environmental signals via the circadian system, a pervasive network that provides a biological timing reference. This internal reference has two benefits; it allows plants to measure daylength and enables appropriate responses to environmental cues at different times of day. Importantly, a light signal at dawn will induce a different response compared to an identical treatment provided at dusk. We use the circadian system primarily as a prism to understand how plants are perceiving and responding to light cues at different times of day.
Given recent advances in LED technology, the time is right to pursue opportunities that enhance crop yield and quality through precise manipulation of a crop’s lighting regime. Our research has led us to develop various imaging methods to measure plants’ circadian rhythms and responses to light. We developed imaging methods to show photosynthetic efficiency varies according to a circadian rhythm and have worked to explore how red light signals are integrated into the circadian system. We have also revealed a role for green light in maintaining circadian rhythms. In more fundamental work, we are currently funded to understand how blue light signals contribute to drought tolerance.