Erin Casey

School of Biology Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability Devonshire Building Newcastle University Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU


Professor Anne Borland and Dr Tahar Taybi

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2013 with a 1st class honours degree in Biology. My undergraduate project investigated how salt- tolerance in plants varies in response to differential gene expression. Between my second and third year of my degree I was awarded a vacation scholarship where I investigated CAM induction in the facultative CAM plant Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. I was later given a commendation for the content and presentation of my scientific research. The experience led me to become interested in plant photosynthesis and how it can be engineered to produce sustainable biofuels and increase food security.

Project title: The role of the chloroplastic glucose transporter in the operation of CAM in Kalanchoë fedtschenkoi

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a drought-adapted mode of photosynthesis which reduces water loss by fixing CO₂ at night. As the environment becomes more arid due to global warming, one way of increasing both biofuel and agricultural production is to exploit marginal lands which currently cannot be used. This can be achieved through genetically engineering CAM into an economically important bioenergy feed-stock plant such as Poplar; enabling it to be grown in a wider range of environments, with lower water inputs.
My project aims to explore how starch breakdown influences the photosynthetic cycle, as sugar metabolism is critical for CAM function This is being investigated through the characterization of a knock- down mutant in the CAM plant Kalanchoë fedtschenkoi which lacks a chloroplastic glucose transporter (GlcT 12) which required for optimal starch metabolism. 

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