Andrew Smith

Research Interests

By virtue of many remarkable adaptations apparent in their life-forms, growth-habits, morphology and metabolism, plants are able to survive in an astonishingly wide range of environments on Earth.  My research group is interested in two particular environmental adaptations in plants, namely the modified form of photosynthesis known as crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which allows plants to grow in semi-arid and other water-limited environments, and the unusual trait of metal hyperaccumulation associated with plants growing on metalliferous substrates, such as serpentine soils derived from ultramafic bedrock.  We are using a variety of ecophysiological, biochemical and genomic approaches to investigate the evolutionary origins of these complex traits and their adaptive significance in an ecological context.  Current interests that could lead to future D.Phil. projects include investigation of the functional importance of CAM photosynthesis in tropical epiphytes such as bromeliads, and exploration of the genetic basis of population-level variation in nickel-hyperaccumulating plants across the Mediterranean basin.



Personal Research Keywords

adaptation, ecophysiology, photosynthesis, crassulacean acid metabolism, epiphytes, metals