Francesco Licausi

Research Interests

1. When submerged, terrestrial plants suffer from hypoxia and ethylene entrapment stress. Instead, acquatic seed plants and macroalgae thrive underwater. How did they evolve to deal with this habitat? And how can they deal with the progressive deoxygenation observed in water bodies due to algae overgrowth, nocturnal respiration and decay?

2. Aerobic biology has driven the development and diversification of life forms on our planet over the last two billion years. We investigate the signalling mechanisms that link oxygen availability to plant growth and development, to understand adaptations to oxygen fluctuations throughout evolution and to design novel biotechnological strategies.

3. DPhil students in our group could investigate the mechanisms that allow aquatic plants and macroalgae to cope with hypoxia, their diversity across marine and freshwater habitats and could trace their evolution alongside that of aquatic environments' oxic conditions.

4. Addressing these questions can involve: (1) comparative phylogenomic and phylotranscriptomic analyses of in-situ collected specimens, (2) assessment of local oxic conditions, (3) biochemical analyses of hypoxia and hormone signalling components and (4) heterologous complementation of signalling components through genetic engineering and gene editing.


Qualifications and Experience

Associate Professor of Plant Science, Tutorial Fellow in Biology (Wadham College), successfully supervised 10 PhD students and 16 Master students

Personal Research Keywords

hypoxia, submergence, plant stress, plant evolution