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Andrew Leakey's Laboratory


Integrative Plant Physiology, Genetics and Genomics

Our research broadly addresses the need to improve mechanistic understanding of:

  1. Plant responses in natural and agricultural ecosystems to global environmental change
  2. Adaptation of food and fuel crops to global environmental change, especially drought
  3. Sustainability of biofuel feedstocks

This will enhance understanding of how the environment impacts ecosystem goods and services and advance efforts to improve and protect crop production and water cycling. To do this we combine genetic, molecular, biochemical, physiological and ecological tools to assess plant performance in manipulative field experiments and controlled environment conditions.

The major focus of our group at present is to understand the genetic and physiological controls of stomatal patterning and photosynthetic water use efficiency (WUE) through a combination of molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, and physiology. This has practical application through our efforts to use biotechnology and breeding to enhance WUE through manipulation of stomatal patterning. The project will benefit substantially from significant advances made by our team and collaborators in recent years in: (1) high-throughput phenotyping of stomatal patterning and stomatal conductance, (2) development of transgenic germplasm and natural diversity collections, and (3) a new large-scale field facility for imposing drought treatments. 


Currently most of our research is done at:

Institute for Genomic Biology

Photo of a combine harvesting corn by the IGB



Photo of a crop field with the text: "SoyFACE crop responses and adaptation to climate change"

SoyFACE (Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment) is an innovative facility for growing crops under production field conditions in an atmosphere that has higher levels of carbon dioxide and ozone, higher temperature and altered soil water availability. SoyFACE was designed to discover the effects of atmospheric change on the agronomy and productivity of Midwestern crops as well as to find solutions that will lead to crops better adapted to this future. 

SoyFACE Aerial Video