Sustainability database

People

Dr Giles Johnson

Senior Lecturer

Global climate change is resulting in changing weather patterns. For the UK, it is predicted that we will get warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers. At the same time, there will be an increase in the frequency of extreme weather, including periods of droughts and heat waves, but also more storms and floods. This, combined with growing demand for food across the world, means that agriculture is facing unprecedented challenges. The crops used by farmers will have to change. We will need plants that produce greater yields using fewer chemicals whilst being able to survive extreme weather conditions.

Our research is focussed on identifying strategies that can be used to increase the hardiness of crops, while maintaining or increasing yield. In particular we are examining the process of photosynthesis, by which sunlight is used to make the sugars that drive growth. We are investigating how crop plants respond to extreme conditions but also looking at wild plants, with natural stress tolerance, to see what lessons can be learnt from them and to identify traits that might be bred into our crops.

Division: 
Research
Sustainability enthusiast?: 
No
Interdisciplinary themes: 
Climate
Education
Environment

Connections

Course

Urban Biodiversity and Conservation

Looking at conservation value of natural and semi-natural sites in an urban setting, with a project based in Greater Manchester.

Course

Ecology and Ecosystems

Freshwater ecosystem; soil ecosystem; forest management; climate change

Research

Plant productivity in extreme environments

Group

Environment, Ecology and Evolution

The Environment, Ecology and Evolution Group focuses on applied research that addresses 21st century environmental challenges. The food we eat, the water we drink and the fuel that powers our industries are all dwindling resources that we harvest from the world around us. As our populations expand and natural areas are converted to farmland and cities we lose the services that nature provided for free. Our expanding cities have become ecosystems in their own right with their own unique urban ecology.

Keywords: 
Food, Water, Environmental biology, Biology, ecosystem services, Climate change, Biodiversity

Group

Plant Sciences

Plants form the basis of life on Earth...

They are essential to us as food and their domestication was a primary driving factor in the birth of civilisation. Now, with the rising world population and climate change increasing the frequency of crop failures, food supply is becoming a key issue throughout the world. At the same time, plants are playing a growing role in meeting our energy needs and have enormous potential as sources of novel compounds.

Keywords: 
Plants, Plant science, Biology, Climate change

Group

Biophysics and Structural Biology

The Biophysics and Structural Biology research group brings together researchers interested in understanding biology at the molecular level, linking structure with function. Research in the group spans the kingdoms of life investigating the molecular basis of virus, plant, microbial, animal and human biology. It often uses an interdisciplinary approach combining the use of structural biology with advanced enzymological, spectroscopic or computational studies.

Keywords: 
Biology

Group

Environment and Ecology

The Faculty of Life Science's Environment and Ecology research theme (Directed by Prof Richard Preziosi) focuses on applied research that addresses 21st century environmental challenges.

The food we eat, the water we drink, and the fuel that powers our industries are all dwindling resources that we harvest from the world around us. As our populations expand and natural areas are converted to farmland and cities, we lose the services that nature provided for free.

Keywords: 
Environment, Ecology, Biology, Biodiversity

Group

Plant Stress Biology

In recent years concern has been growing about the consequences of global climate change caused by human emissions of CO2. This is predicted, in addition to causing a general warming of the planet, to cause an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events (IPCC). Periods of drought and extreme temperature (high and low) and incidents of flooding are all liable to increase. This is of particular concern because of the likely impact on food production.

Keywords: 
Plants, Plant science, Biology, Climate change, Environmental biology