Congratulations to Aoife Coffey who submitted her PhD thesis to the UCC graduate school on May 4, 2016. The title of Aoife’s thesis is “UV-B radiation; a specific regulator of plant growth and development”.
Aoife’s thesis work was supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and supervised by Prof. Marcel Jansen. Collaborators included Prof. Els Prinsen at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and Dr. Dara Fitzpatrick in the Department of Chemistry at UCC, Cork.
Aoife’s work focussed on the elucidation of plant responses to low levels of UV-B radiation. Exploiting natural sunlight, Aoife studied the role of the UV-B photoreceptor UVR8 in modulating growth and development of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Aoife showed that the UVR8 photoreceptor plays an important role in mediating UV-B responses, even under the low light conditions that are typical for Irish winters. In Arabidopsis, one of the main plant UV-B responses is the accumulation of protective flavonoids, and Aoife studied the importance of the glycosylation of these compounds for UV-protection. Interestingly, many UV-induced plant protective compounds are also important from a (human) nutritional perspective, and Aoife showed that UV-B and especially UV-A radiation can substantially improve the colouration of lettuce, a finding that has considerable commercial perspectives for the horticultural industry.