Environmental biotechnology induction - plant. Shutterstock.

Among the many obstacles to food security, adverse environmental conditions result in disastrous decreases in crop yield, with drought being the most prevalent constraint. 

One important step to create crop varieties more resilient to climatic stresses such as drought is to understand the mechanisms used by plants to face abiotic stresses. However, few resistant varieties have been produced to date, and the majority of studies that try to unravel the mechanisms of abiotic stress response conducted in controlled “simple” lab conditions. One approach is to develop ideotypes, crop plants with combinations of traits optimising performance in a given environment. However, the development of these crop models is also limited by the poor understanding of crop physiological processes under complex field environments.

Dr Anne Plessisresearch aims to provide new insight on physiological responses in the field that can help improve the models.
Her current research focuses on the role of Abscisic acid (ABA) in stress respopnses. ABA is the main plant hormone involved in abiotic stimuli signalling, which plays an important role responses to drought, salt and cold stresses. This multiplicity of functions strongly points at a pivotal role of this hormone in coordinating responses to concurrent environmental perturbations. While the role of ABA in the response to individual abiotic stresses has been widely studied, little is known about how it regulates plant physiology under the combinations of stresses encountered in complex field conditions. Another focus of Anne Plessis’ work is to understand the role of ABA in stress response in complex environments.

Plant Ecophysiology. Anne Plessis
Comparing the effect of climate on rice plants in flooded and drained fields
Plant Ecophysiology. Anne Plessis
A rain-out shelter used to simulate drought conditions for field grown wheat and barley

Selected publications

Plessis A, Hafemeister C, Wilkins O, Gonzaga ZJ, Meyer RS, Pires I, Muller C, Septiningsih E, Bonneau R, Purugganan MD. (2015) Multiple abiotic stimuli are integrated in the regulation of rice gene expression under field conditions. eLife 4

Wilkins O, Hafemeister C, Plessis A, Holloway-Phillips MM, Pham G, Nicotra AB, Gregorio GB, Jagadish SK, Septiningsih EM, Bonneau R, Purugganan M. (2016) EGRINs (Environmental Gene Regulatory Influence Networks) in rice that function in the response to water deficit, high temperature, and agricultural environments. The Plant Cell 28:2365-2384

Plessis A, Cournol R, Effroy D, Silva Pérez V, Botran L, Kraepiel Y, Frey A, Sotta B, Cornic G, Leung J, Giraudat J, Marion-Poll A, North HM. (2011) New ABA-Hypersensitive Arabidopsis Mutants Are Affected in Loci Mediating Responses to Water Deficit and Dickeya dadantii Infection. PLoS ONE 6(5): e20243


Seale-Hayne Educational Trust: Improving physiological models of cereal response to limited water availability under field conditions (£5,450)