Circadian rhythms in plants

Applying imaging techniques, transcriptomics and machine learning to explore circadian rhythms in a range of plant systems

Project Summary.

Led by: Anthony Hall Group

Project Funders:


The circadian clock is a finely balanced time-keeping mechanism. This clock regulates a number of key cycles, from when we want to sleep to when we feel hungry. In plants, these rhythms are equally critical and regulate a huge range of processes, including flowering time, plant metabolism, and mineral uptake. 

We know that plants are healthier and have higher yields when their circadian clocks are in sync with their external surroundings. Understanding how the clock functions in key crops, such as bread wheat, has clear agricultural potential. 

Our group is interested in developing innovative methods for exploring clock regulation in different species and finding variation in circadian behaviour. For example, the impact of plants being the equivalent of a morning person (lark) or an evening person (owl). A core aim of this project is to translate techniques for studying circadian rhythms in Arabidopsis into agriculturally relevant species, with a focus on wheat. 


Impact statement.

We are constantly searching for new ways to improve wheat, a crop that provides more dietary calories than any other globally. By bringing our knowledge of circadian clocks in wheat in line with what we know for plants such as Arabidopsis, we can unlock further avenues for breeders and farmers to deploy environmentally robust and high yielding crops in the right places at the right times of year - maximising agricultural potential.