skip to primary navigationskip to content

Professor Howard Griffiths

Research themes


We investigate plant molecular, physiological and environmental processes which regulate productivity and CO2 sequestration, and aim to improve the operating efficiency of the primary carboxylase, Rubisco, and match water availability to use.

Departments and Institutes

Department of Plant Sciences:

Research Interests

The Physiological Ecology Group led by Prof Griffiths uses stable isotopes to provide non-invasive biological and ecological markers of carbon dioxide and water exchange. The relative rate of 13C/12C incorporation into plant tissue is quantitatively related to mesophyll limitations and the extent water loss. When scaling from plant gas exchanges from the scale of leaf to crop (or SRC) canopy, we can partition 13C/12C and 18O/16O to reveal net carbon sequestration as a function of soil respiratory losses and soil water deficit. We use real-time, dynamic models of "isotopic landscapes" to develop systems biology concepts at increasing scales of complexity. We are currently determining the isotopic footprint for carbon gain and water use for Miscanthus. When allied to molecular markers of genetic diversity in marker assisted selection schemes,
our laboratory and field scale studies can evaluate carbon partitioning and sequestration potential of newly developing biomass or conventional crops, as well as their water use patterns and impact on local and regional hydrological cycles. We are also interested in the potential for succulent plants, such as Agave to provide an alternative source of biomass and biofuels and the potential impact on conservation and biodiversity of bioenergy crops in general.