Controlled environment agriculture, such as indoor vertical farming, is a rapidly growing horticultural sector, reducing water, fertiliser and pesticide use and producing food on non-arable land. A key drawback is energy use, hence increasing yield (per energy input) and reducing losses are critical factors for environmental impact.
In vertical farms plants experience dawn as a sudden change whereas a natural sunrise is gradual and variable. We have identified an Arabidopsis gene network that responds to light in the early morning and is predicted to impact photosynthesis and fungal disease resistance. In this project we will investigate the impact of different sunrise regimes on this network, determining whether the network is conserved in lettuce and how morning gene expression in lettuce changes as a result of different sunrise conditions. We will also assess how different sunrises influence the yield of microherbs in a vertical farm.
The successful student will work in the lab (using techniques such as RNASeq and qPCR) and at Grow It York, (University vertical farm) in collaboration with Vertically Urban. using their low energy, tunable LED lighting.