Dr Mike Haydon



2013-  Lecturer  Department of Biology, University of York  
2010-2013   Post-doctoral Research Associate  Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge  
2008-2010  Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow Heidelberg Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Heidelberg
2007-2008  Post-doctoral Scientist  Heidelberg Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Heidelberg  
2003-2007   PhD Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne  
1997-2002 BSc (Hons) Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne  




Plants must sense and adapt to environmental changes to grow efficiently and respond to stress. These adaptations can occur over timescales ranging from minutes to generations. Research in the lab aims to understand the cellular and molecular bases for how plants sense environmental signals to adapt their physiology and development. For example, our recent research revealed a role for light-dependent production of sugars (i.e photosynthesis) in adapting internal molecular rhythms in Arabidopsis to daily changes in environment (Haydon et al., Nature 2013). Ongoing research in the lab is investigating how plants sense changes in internal sugar levels and how this information is integrated into classical modes of light sensing through photoreceptors.

A second aspect of research in the lab aims to understand the role of the plant cell wall in sensing and responding to environmental signals. The plant cell wall is a complex and dynamic structure, which forms a barrier between the cellular and external environment. It provides strength to otherwise formless plant cells, but must be highly plastic to allow physiological and developmental adaptations. We aim to identify cell wall components that sense the external environment and elucidate the cellular pathways that drive dynamic modifications of plant cell walls.


Two references

  • Haydon MJ, Mielczarek O, Robertson FC, Hubbard KE, Webb AAR (2013) Photosynthetic entrainment of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock. Nature 502  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12603 
  • Haydon MJ, Kawachi M, Wirtz M, Hillmer S, Hell R, Krämer U (2012) Vacuolar nicotianamine has critical and distinct roles under iron deficiency and for zinc sequestration in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 24: 724-737.

The circadian clock allows organisms to adapt to daily and seasonal changes in environment. Recently, my research has demonstrated a role for sugars produced from photosynthesis in adaptation of plants to light-dark rhythms by acting as an entrainment signal for the circadian clock.

Available PhD research projects

Integration of sugar and light signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana (2014-15)

Carbon metabolism is a fundamental biological process providing energy and the molecular building blocks for life. In plants, sugars are produced from photosynthesis in a light-dependent manner. Indeed, photosynthesis is probably the most important metabolic process on the planet. In addition to the role in energy storage, sugars have hormone-like properties in plants that regulate growth, developmental processes such as flowering time, affect pathogen sensitivity, and contribute to cell cycle progression and circadian entrainment. Understanding sugar sensing and signalling is a fundamental question in plant biology that has broad implications for improving agricultural efficiency and crop yields.

The light-dependence of sugar production in photosynthetic organisms adds complexity to sugar signalling pathways in plants. A new assay has been developed to investigate sugar responses in plants in isolation of light signalling. Mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana have been identified that have an altered response to sugars and developmental phenotypes associated with disrupted sugar sensing or signalling. This project will set out to fully characterise physiological and molecular phenotypes in selected mutants while varying sugar availability by manipulating growth conditions to alter light conditions and photosynthetic efficiency. The student will proceed to map the underlying mutations and utilise state-of-the-art molecular tools for functional characterisation of the gene-products. The ultimate goal will be to understand the contribution of sugar signalling pathways in plants in the context of light-dependent production of sugars.

Haydon Mike

Contact details

Dr Mike Haydon
Department of Biology
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 328803