Research in the Sharrock laboratory focuses on two areas of plant molecular genetics: the mechanisms through which plants sense and respond to environmental light cues and the regulation of the development of the floral stem or inflorescence. For the first of these research areas, our overall objective is to understand how the phytochrome red/far-red photoreceptors trigger and coordinate plant developmental responses to the light environment. This work has employed molecular and genetic approaches to define the structures of the five Arabidopsis phytochromes, the physiological and developmental roles of these receptors, and their patterns of expression in the plant. Future research directions focus on early events in phytochrome activation and identification of components of the signal transduction pathways through which phytochromes modulate growth and developmental responses.
The second major focus of the lab is isolation of mutants that alter the growth and structure of the Arabidopsis flowering bolt, or inflorescence, and the identification of the genes that correspond to these mutations. Ultimately, our objective is to describe molecular pathways in plants that control internode elongation in the inflorescence stem and, therefore, determine critical aspects of plant reproductive architecture and adaptation.