Synthetic biology and photosynthesis

Group Leaders
Group Members

General research support

PhD Students

Undergrad or Master Students


Our group is interested in understanding how global re-arrangements of gene regulatory networks have shaped the evolution of photosynthesis in plants, more specifically the adaptation of the photosynthetic machinery to different light conditions. The capacity of plants to harvest light energy from the sun and fix CO2 through photosynthesis is one of the main determinants to crop yield. However, too much light can inhibit the photosynthetic capacity of a plant when parts of the photosynthetic machinery like the photosystem II are damaged and not repaired fast.

Thus, our research aims to integrate genomics, phenomics and synthetic biology tools to 1) understand how different plant lineages evolved mechanisms to cope with light stress, 2) use this information as a principle for improving CO2 fixation under stress conditions and 3) generate predictive models for gene regulation to reprogramme and control gene expression in plants under different stress conditions. 

Selected Publications

Burgess, S. J*., Reyna-Llorens, I*., Stevenson, S. R., Singh, P., Jaeger, K., & Hibberd, J.
Genome-wide transcription factor binding in leaves from C3 and C4 grasses.
(2019) The Plant Cell 31(10), pp. 2297–2314

Reyna-Llorens, I., Burgess, S.J., Reeves, G., Singh, P., Stevenson, S.R., Williams, B.P., Stanley, S. and Hibberd, J.M.,
Ancient duons may underpin spatial patterning of gene expression in C4 leaves.
(2018) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(8), pp.1931-1936

Yu, Z., Boehm, C. R., Hibberd, J. M., Abell, C., Haseloff, J., Burgess, S. J., & Reyna-Llorens, I*.
Droplet-based microfluidic analysis and screening of single plant cells.
(2018) PLoS ONE 13(5): e0196810.

Reyna-Llorens, I., & Hibberd, J. M.
Recruitment of pre-existing networks during the evolution of C4 photosynthesis.
(2017) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 372(1730), 20160386.