My pronouns are she/her
I am interested in how metabolism can be facilitated by specialised anatomy, particularly in the example of C4 photosynthesis. C4 photosynthesis involves the formation of a carbon concentrating mechanism that can increase photosynthetic efficiency by up to 50% compared to the more common, ancestral C3 photosynthesis pathway. In C4 plants, CO2 is initially fixed in mesophyll cells into a C4 acid, which is then transferred to bundle sheath cells, where CO2 is decarboxylated and concentrated. This entails both biochemical adaptations and the development of ‘Kranz-type’ leaf anatomy with increased vein density and altered bundle sheath cells, to maximise contact sites between mesophyll and bundle sheath cells. The bundle sheath cells typically have significantly increased cell-to-cell connectivity to mesophyll cells via numerous cell-to-cell connections (plasmodesmata) to allow the efficient exchange of metabolites, which is important to facilitate the biochemistry of C4 photosynthesis. The bundle sheath cells also have an increased number of organelles that have unique polar positioning. However, the cell-biological mechanisms by which these features form are poorly understood. In my research, I aim to understand the formation and regulation of these cell-biological traits in C4 leaves. For this, I am studying the dicotyledous C4 model plant Gynandropsis gynandra using a broad range of 2D and 3D microscopy techniques, CRISPR/Cas9 mediated mutagenesis, protein analyses and physiological measurements. Ultimately, my research aims to enable greater photosynthetic efficiency which would result in improved crop yields and more sustainable agriculture.
If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch by email.