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Professor Alistair M HetheringtonB.Sc., Ph.D.(St.And.)

Melville Wills Chair in Botany

Alistair Hetherington

Professor Alistair M HetheringtonB.Sc., Ph.D.(St.And.)

Melville Wills Chair in Botany

Member of

Research interests

The research in my group centres on understanding, at the cellular level, how plants respond to a changing environment. Specifically we are interested in identifying the individual components present in the intracellular signalling pathways responsible for coupling extracellular stimuli to their characteristic responses. To investigate this we focus on stomata, the pores found on the surfaces of leaves. Environmental signals regulate both stomatal development and the aperture of the stomatal pore and our current interests lie in the regulation of stomatal aperture and development by carbon dioxide, ABA and changes in atmospheric relative humidity. At the cellular level we maintain a strong interest in calcium-based intracellular signalling with ongoing research into long chain phosphorylated sphingoid base signalling and the mechanisms responsible for encoding information in, and decoding information from, stimulus-induced calcium elevations (calcium signatures). More recently, through our work on stomatal evolution, we have started to focus more on the evolution of signalling pathways. Although most of our work has been in Arabidopsis, recently we have worked on the model lower plant Selaginella and extended our work to barley and wheat. The cereal work, which we carry out with colleagues at Bristol and elsewhere, is very much in the context of Food Security where we are interested in investigating the potential of modifying stomatal behaviour and development with the aim of improving water use efficiency. This later area relates to Living With Environment Change research and here we are also interested, together with other colleagues at Bristol, in using crop albedo as a possible bio-geoengineering strategy to combat global warming.

Topics I am interested in:

  • guard cell signalling
  • the control of stomatal development by environmental signals
  • sphingosine-based signalling
  • the role of calcium as an intracellular second messenger
  • the evolution of intracellular signalling systems
  • the evolution of stomata
  • improving crop water use efficiency
  • crop albedo bio-geoengineering

Further information about my research can be found on the home page of my group.

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Postal address:
Life Sciences Building
24 Tyndall Avenue
Bristol
United Kingdom