Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Professor of Plant Sciences



+44 (0)20 7594 6437c.turnbull Website




449Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Research Overview

We work on genes and signals in plant development and defence, that allow plants to function in an integrated manner. Functional genomics enables us to address these questions directly. In particular, we can exploit proteomics and transcriptomics in combination with the widespread availability of mutants and transgenics. We have also invested time in developing tools for studying systemic signalling, especially micro-grafting and sap sampling in Arabidopsis. We have published on both phloem (Corbesier et al. 2007; Truman et al. 2007; Zhang et al. 2010; Lopez-Cobollo et al. 2016) and xylem (Foo et al. 2007) systems. For plant defence against aphids, we are particularly interested in genomics and species-wide diversity of both pest virulence and host resistance (Kanvil et al. 2014a), in genetics of aphid virulence (Kanvil et al. 2014b) and in phloem defences against aphids (Kanvil et al. 2017).  

See further details at research page


Controlling dormancy and sprouting in potato and onion (BBSRC Horticulture and Potato Initiative 2013-2017; with James Hutton Institute, Cranfield University and Greenwich University)

The molecular and genetic basis of aphid virulence (BBSRC 2016-2018; with Dundee University)

Disentangling the mechanisms of ecological speciation in sympatric palm species (NERC 2015-2018; led by Prof Vincent Savolainen, Silwood Park)

Interested in Postdoctoral Fellowships?

Imperial College runs an annual competitive Imperial College Research Fellowships scheme (Imperial College Research Fellowships). If you are eligible and might be interested in applying, please get in touch at We can also assist in preparing applications for fellowship schemes run by Royal Society, BBSRC and many other organisations.

Interested in PHD or MRes projects?

If you are interested in projects on plant signalling in development or defence, please get in touch at We encourage potential students to develop their own projects centred on any of the four main areas in the lab:

- Plant-aphid interactions: inheritance and characterisation of effectors and resistance genes see Plant Cell & Environment papersee Genetics paper

- Plant shoot architecture,meristem dormancy and underlying regulatory hormone networks centred on cytokinins, strigolactones and auxin see Nature Communications papersee Plant Physiology paper

- Structure and function of flowering hormone proteins, especially FT and its interactors

- Phloem biology especially comparative proteomics see Plant Journal paper

Pea aphid on Medicago


Fichtner F, Barbier FF, Kerr SC, et al., 2021, Plasticity of bud outgrowth varies at cauline and rosette nodes in Arabidopsis thaliana., Plant Physiol

Sharma SK, McLean K, Colgan RJ, et al., 2021, Combining conventional QTL analysis and whole-exome capture-based bulk-segregant analysis provides new genetic insights into tuber sprout elongation and dormancy release in a diploid potato population., Heredity, Vol:127, ISSN:0018-067X, Pages:253-265

Parry G, Benitez-Alfonso Y, Gibbs DJ, et al., 2020, How to build an effective research network: lessons from two decades of the GARNet plant science community, Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol:71, ISSN:0022-0957, Pages:6881-6889

Alamar MC, Anastasiadi M, Lopez-Cobollo R, et al., 2020, Transcriptome and phytohormone changes associated with ethylene-induced onion bulb dormancy, Postharvest Biology and Technology, Vol:168, ISSN:0925-5214, Pages:1-13

Antoniadi I, Novák O, Gelová Z, et al., 2020, Cell-surface receptors enable perception of extracellular cytokinins, Nature Communications, Vol:11, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-10