Prof. Christine Foyer


Current CV

Research Interests:

The Foyer lab is interested in the regulation of growth and development under optimal and stress (drought, chilling, high light, aphid infestation) conditions, with a particular focus on how cellular reduction/oxidation (redox) homeostasis and signalling interact with phytohormone–mediated pathways, particularly involving abscisic acid, auxin and stigolactones. Research focuses on ascorbate and glutathione as key regulators of plant responses to stress and on how redox processes associated with primary metabolism particularly photosynthesis and respiration regulate gene expression.

The Foyer lab uses multidisciplinary approaches incorporating -omics technologies, molecular and biochemical techniques and whole plant physiology to study the relationships between primary metabolism, gene expression and growth under optimal and stress conditions. The lab tackles research problems of intrinsic scientific interest but is always mindful of the needs of agriculture and food security. In addition to undertaking fundamental studies on model plant species such as Arabidopsis thaliana, research in the Foyer lab includes translational aspects, particularly in relation to enhancing stress tolerance in crop species such as soybean, maize and barley.

Christine Foyer also directs the Human Health & Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (Africa College; at the University of Leeds, which works in innovative partnerships with African institutions in capacity building and the translation of research results into plant improvement programs.

The following projects are currently in progress in the Foyer laboratory:

  • The identification of proteins involved in the import of reduced glutathione into the nucleus and the role of glutathione in the nucleus particularly during the cell cycle.
  • The characterisation of redox processes involved in the control of seed germination and bud dormancy, particularly those that influence the cell cycle.
  • The investigation of the role of glutathione in the control of root architecture, particularly interactions with abscisic acid, auxin and stigolactones.
  • The identification of proteins involved in redox signal transduction in the chloroplasts and mitochondria, such as Whirly1 and senescence associated gene (SAG)21. These processes are studied in transgenic barley plants with altered expression of Whirly1 and SAG)21.
  • The roles of cysteine and serine proteases, and cysteine (OCI) and serine protease inhibitors in the control of leaf (barley, soybean) and nodule (soybean) senescence. Transgenic barley and soybean plants have been produced with constitutive expression of protease inhibitors.
  • The influence of high light stress on local and systemic resistance to aphids.


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Nuclear localisation of reduced glutathione (GSH) in Arabidopsis Cells
Nuclear localisation of reduced glutathione (GSH) in Arabidopsis Cells at the start of the cell cycle. From top to bottom the images show: Arabidopsis cells immediately after innoculation into new growth medium; detection of nuclei with Hoechst (blue stain), GSH by CMFDA (green stain) using confocal microscopy and finally an overlay of both the latter images. These data demonstrate recruitment of GSH into nuclei very early in the cell cycle.