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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Manganese homeostasis in higher plants

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Investigating membrane proteins of Arabidopsis involved in alleviating manganese toxicity and deficiency across the plant

Manganese (Mn) is an essential heavy metal in both plant and animal nutrition, but is detrimental for an organism if scarce or when present in excess. Deficiency and toxicity are major causes of crop yield loss across the globe, particularly in barley and wheat, resulting in stunted growth and reduced photosynthetic ability. To avoid these nutritional extremes, plants rely heavily on membrane transporters to partition and deliver manganese ions around the cell and around the plant.

One key family of transporters under investigation are the Metal Tolerance Proteins (MTPs). These proteins cluster phylogenetically according to substrate specificity, suggesting amino acid sequence is important for determining transporter selectivity and function.

An initial method of investigation is the use of knockout mutants, to explore any Mn-sensitive phenotypes when particular members of this family are silenced. The project aims to investigate how different transporters cooperate to maintain homeostasis under different Mn levels, using the model higher plant Arabidopsis.

Funding:   Gerald Kerkut Trust (1 Oct 2012 - 30 Sept 2015).

PI lead on project and contact : Dr. Lorraine E. Williams (

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
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