Monocot Grafting

A tool to future proof plants for changing climate

  • Thu 1 Dec 22

    13:00 - 14:00

  • Colchester Campus

    STEM 3.1

  • Event speaker

    Dr Pallavi Singh

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars

  • Event organiser

    Life Sciences, School of

  • Contact details

    Dr Amanda Cavanagh

Grafting is the horticultural practice of fusing two plants so that they grow as one. Nearly all perennial orchard crops (i.e., apple, cherry, pecan, grape, rose, olive, citrus, maple, etc) are grafted commercially.

However, this ancient and widespread agricultural practice had not been applied to the monocotyledons, which represent the second largest group of terrestrial plants and include many staple cereal crops.

Pallavi Singh's recent postdoctoral work at University of Cambridge overturned the consensus dating back thousands of years that grasses and related species do not graft. The research identified that the hypocotyl (mesocotyl in grasses) as a meristematic tissue allowing grafting.

In the seminar, Pallavi will outline the process of monocot grafting and our current mechanistic understanding of formation of graft union. She will also discuss how these findings open-up grafting as a research tool to understand plant physiology, development, and genetics in numerous cereal model systems. In particular, engineering crops to uncouple roots from shoots provides an opportunity to combat newly emerging and threatening challenges to elite cereal crops.

One of the first set of experiments, by her research group at University of Essex, will test the hypothesis that cereal grafting could offer a way to develop specialized root systems tailored to limited soil water. This uncoupling of the two systems, will enable us to better understand different aspects of root/shoot hydraulics and its interplay in facilitating water use in cereal crops.


Pallavi did her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Biochemistry from University of Lucknow, India. She did a PhD (2016) at National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India on investigating the role of Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) signaling networks in imparting flooding tolerance in rice. She then started as a visiting fellow in the lab of Professor Adam Bogdanove at Cornell University, USA, where her research interests focused on the interaction of rice with its bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas and the role of transcription activator-like (TAL) effector proteins facilitating this interplay.

In 2017, she started as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Professor Julian Hibberd at the University of Cambridge, focussing on how gene regulation differed between the derived C4 and the ancestral C3 pathways of photosynthesis. From September 2022 she has started as a Lecturer at School of Life Sciences at University of Essex. She is interested in using both natural variation as well as cutting edge cell-specific approaches to improve the understanding of complex traits such as water use in cereal crops.

How to attend

This seminar is being held in person in STEM 3.1 (STEM Centre on Square 1, Colchester campus). You can also watch via Zoom (meeting ID: 916 2270 2239)

If you have any queries about this seminar please email Dr Amanda Cavanagh (a.cavanagh@essex.ac.uk).

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