Plant Sciences: University of Cambridge

Javascript is required to view this map.
MPhil, PhD
Plant Sciences: University of Cambridge, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA, Cambridge, United Kingdom
App Deadline 
MPhil and PhD: contact
+44 (0)1223 333958
+44 (0)1223 333953


Plants are utterly fundamental to life on Earth. From single-celled algae to the planet's largest living organism, they all contribute to their world's biodiversity and generate the oxygen, food, fibres, fuel and medicine that allow human life to exist. Research undertaken in the Department is relevant because:

The photosynthesis and metabolism of plants sustains life on earth, and interactions with plant pathogens, pests and diseases needs to be understood from molecular to ecological scales, using biophysical, biochemical and mathematical modelling perspectives

Plants are helping to mitigate the impact of increasing CO2 concentrations and delay climate change by sequestering carbon, and so studies ranging from forest diversity and productivity to the molecular evolution of photosynthetic pathways are highly relevant to our future in an elevated CO2 world

Plants and fungi are exceptionally convenient organisms to manipulate from a molecular perspective to understand fundamental processes, many of which are common to plants, animals and humans, with applications relevant to vitamin balance and protein biopharming.

Key research areas

Plant Development

  • Evolutionary developmental genetics of petals and leaves (Dr Beverley Glover)
  • Plant growth substances: sensitivity vs signal strength (Dr David Hanke)
  • Control and Reprogramming of cell differentiation (Dr Jim Haseloff)

Cell Biology

  • Molecular biology of plant-virus interactions and resistance responses (Dr John Carr)
  • Characterisation of ion channels in tip growth of route hairs and fungal cells (Dr Julia Davies)
  • Circadian signal transduction (Dr Alex Webb)

Photosynthesis and Metabolism

  • Biochemistry of iron-sulphur proteins (Dr Janneke Balk)
  • Regulation of expression of genes encoding chloroplast proteins and macromolecular communication between chloroplasts (Professor John Gray)
  • Climate change, epiphytes and stable isotopes; Ecophysiology of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants (Professor Howard Griffiths)
  • Assembly and evolution of the photosynthetic apparatus (Dr Julian Hibberd)
  • Biosynthetic pathways for vitamins and haem (Dr Alison Smith)

Epidemiology, Ecology and Evolution

  • Forest dynamics and scaling in communities and ecosystems (Dr David Coomes)
  • Quantitative analysis and modelling of disease spread at scales ranging from individual plants to regions (Professor Chris Gilligan)
  • Plants and Microbial Systems Biology (Dr Adam Kleczkowski)
  • Regeneration and maintenance of plant biodiversity in tropical rainforests (Dr Edmund Tanner)

Research collaborations

There are extensive research collaborations with:

  • other departments, such as Genetics, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics
  • other institutions, such as the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, the Institute of Arable Crop Research, the John Innes Centre, and many UK universities
  • companies, including Advanced Technologies, Ceres Inc and Biogemma UK.

Further information

  • visit for PhD research opportunities, and to download the Department's Graduate Handbook.

People who viewed 'Plant Sciences: University of Cambridge' also found interest in following institutions . . .