Environmental Plant Physiology

Global food demand is expected to increase substantially over the coming decades, whereas productivity increases of the most important food crops through conventional breeding are slowing down. Global climate change is putting additional pressures on food production. Rain-fed crop yields are increasingly sensitive to water availability and atmospheric vapour pressure deficit, and irrigated crops are depleting global groundwater supplies at an alarming rate. All of this means that new crop improvement and crop husbandry strategies are needed urgently to improve crop productivity and water use efficiency. Since photosynthesis appears to be a major underutilized route to improve crop productivity, I’m studying the physiology of photosynthesis and its interactions with environmental drivers such as light, water, temperature and CO2 with the ultimate aim to improve crop productivity and water use efficiency.

Research areas

Dynamic limitations to C3 and C4 photosynthesis

Photosynthesis has traditionally been studied under steady state conditions. Although this facilitates ease of analysis, natural environments are anything but constant. To address this discrepancy, we are trying to define the limitations to C3 and C4 photosynthesis under dynamic conditions.

Coordination between CO2 uptake and water loss

All terrestrial plants suffer from the same contraption where in order to take up carbon, water must be lost to the atmosphere. We are targeting several major gaps in our understanding of how plants achieve an effective balance between water loss and carbon gain, ranging from the regulation of stomatal opening in response to light to the ‘apparent’ coordination between transfer of leaf water and CO2 in the leaf lamina.

About the group leader

Johannes obtained his BSc and MSc in Plant Sciences at Wageningen University (NL). In 2007 he was awarded the Alexander James Keith PhD studentship to work with Proffessor Howard Griffiths at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he studied the effects of light limitation on the efficiency of the carbon concentrating mechanism in C4 photosynthesis. After finishing his PhD, he worked as a research scientist in Wageningen (NL) and at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (University of Illinois, USA) before returning to Cambridge. He was the 2020 SEB President’s medal recipient (plant section) and currently holds a UKRI-Future Leaders Fellowship. His research group employs a range of techniques from ecophysiology, mathematical modelling, biotechnology and genetic engineering to study plant physiology at the nexus of basic understanding of plant function and applications to improve sustainability and food security.

Led by

Johannes Kromdijk

Johannes Kromdijk

Head of the Environmental Plant Physiology group

Research group staff

Lucía Arce Cubas

Lucía Arce Cubas

Postdoctoral research associate

Other research groups

Ian Henderson

Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance in Plants

Led by Ian Henderson

The Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance group investigates plant genome structure, function, and evolution. T

Kostya Kanyuka

Pathogenomics & Disease Resistance

Led by Kostya Kanyuka

Kostya leads the Pathogenomics & Disease Resistance group at the Crop Science Centre and is Head of Plant Pathology at NIAB where he leads strategic, applied, and commercial research encompassing biology, detection, surveillance, and management of di

Tally Wright

Crop Quantitative Genetics

Led by Tally Wright

The quantitative genetics research group focuses on how genetic variation between different crop accessions can influence their phenotypes, particularly for traits controlled by many genes.

Stéphanie Swarbreck

Crop Molecular Physiology

Led by Stéphanie Swarbreck

Crop Molecular Physiology group researches nitrogen responsiveness at the gene, the whole plant and the plot level, in order to discover and select crop varieties with a low nitrogen requirement and well adapted to regenerative agriculture practises.

Phil Howell

Crop Genetic Resources

Led by Phil Howell

Our research group carries out the development and characterisation of existing and new crop genetic resources, drawing on NIAB’s experience in genetics, pre-breeding, field testing and tissue culture.

Ji Zhou

Artificial Intelligence and Data sciences

Led by Ji Zhou

This group combines AI, computer vision, and data analytics with expertise in plant phenotyping, breeding, and agronomy to enhance crop production in the UK and developing countries

Natasha Yelina

Crop breeding technologies

Led by Natasha Yelina

Novel breeding technologies in legume crops to enhance the production of new cultivars adapted to changing climatic conditions, as well as having sustainable yields.

Jeongmin Choi

Crop resilience

Led by Jeongmin Choi

As sessile organisms, plants have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to help cope with environmental stress.

Uta Paszkowski

Cereal symbiosis

Led by Uta Paszkowski

The mutually beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is the most widespread association between roots of terrestrial plants and fungi of the Glomeromycota.

Lida Derevnina

Crop pathogen immunity

Led by Lida Derevnina

We aim to functionally characterise the NRC network and determine the molecular basis of NLR network mediated immunity.

Giles Oldroyd

Sustainable crop nutrition

Led by Giles Oldroyd

The availability of sources of nitrogen and phosphorus are major limitations to crop productivity. This is primarily addressed through the application of inorganic fertilisers to augment these limiting nutrients.

Sebastian Eves-van den Akker

Plant-parasitic interactions

Led by Sebastian Eves-van den Akker

Combining genomics and molecular biology to understand fundamental questions in host:parasite biology

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