Matthew J. Terry - Reader

School of Biological Sciences,
University of Southampton,

Bassett Crescent East,
Southampton SO16 7PX, UK

Tel. +44 (0)23 8059 2030 

Fax. +44 (0)23 8059 4459

For further information about plant sciences at Southampton please contact the
Plant Biology Group within the School of Biological Sciences

For more information about other UK researchers in photomorophogenesis

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Research Interests

Plants use light to obtain energy through the process of photosynthesis. In order to do this as effectively as possible, they receive and process information about the surrounding light environment using a variety of different photoreceptors. These include the blue light-absorbing cryptochromes and the phytochromes, which absorb red and far-red light. The phytochromes are important in the regulation of a wide range of developmental responses in plants such as germination, growth, development of a functional photosynthetic apparatus, synthesis of protective pigments and flowering. Our primary interest is in how phytochrome regulates chloroplast development and how products of chloroplast metabolism such as sucrose, the phytochrome chromophore, phytochromobilin and other, currently unknown, plastid signals interact with phytochrome-signalling pathways. One major area of research is the regulation of the tetrapyrrole biosynthesis pathway. This plastid-localised pathway leads to the synthesis of chlorophyll, heme and phytochromobilin, all of which have important roles to play in plastid development and may also be involved in plastid signalling. 

Regulation of chlorophyll biosynthesis by light and plastid signalling pathways
The chlorophyll (tetrapyrrole) biosynthesis pathway is regulated by light via the phytochrome and cryptochrome families of photoreceptors and by signals from the plastid indicating the developmental status of this organelle. We are currently taking a number of genomics-based approaches to understand these regulatory pathways including transcriptome analysis of plastid signalling pathways through the Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network (GARNet), targeted metabolomics of tetrapyrrole intermediates in collaboration with Professor Alison Smith at the University of Cambridge and recent developments in proteomic-based approaches such as the AQUA method for absolute protein quantification.

Characterization of phytochrome chromophore-deficient plants
The phytochrome family of photoreceptors are dimeric chromoproteins comprised of two 120 kDa apoproteins each covalently bound to a linear tetrapyrrole chromophore, phytochromobilin, which is synthesized from heme in the plastid. We are characterizing a series of mutants that are blocked in the two committed steps of phytochromobilin synthesis and are deficient in all functional phytochromes. In collaboration with Dr Margareta Ryberg at the Botanical Institute at Göteborg University, Sweden we are currently investigating the effects of inhibiting phytochromobilin synthesis on regulation of the tetrapyrrole synthesis pathway and plastid development using the aurea and yellow-green-2 mutants of tomato. Together with Dr Tom Brutnell at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell we are also characterizing the elm1 mutant of maize.

Plant heme oxygenases 
In plants, heme oxygenases are known to be required for heme degradation and phytochromobilin synthesis, while in other organisms they fulfil a number of additional roles including protection against oxidative stress and tissue injury, Fe
2+ acquisition and neuronal signalling. We are currently investigating the function of the heme oxygenase gene family in pea and Arabidopsis using a combination of molecular and biochemical approaches. This project is a collaboration with Professor Takayuki Kohchi at Kyoto University, Japan.

Interaction of light and plastid signals

Positions available

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Last updated: March 20th, 2007