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Durham University

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Dr Peter Etchells

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Research Interests

I have a long-standing interest in plant development, which I developed while studying at the University of Edinburgh, and as a researcher at the University of Oxford, the John Innes Centre and at the University of Manchester.

My current research focuses on understanding how plant vascular tissue is formed. The main conductive tissues in plants are the xylem and phloem. These tissues arise via cell divisions in a stem cell population that separates these two tissues. Cell division and differentiation occurs in a highly ordered manner. These high levels of organization make plant vasculature an ideal model for developmental biology. The rates of cell division and differentiation are influenced by a range of developmental cues. My work aims to identify these cues and determine how they interact during development.

Woody cell walls in the xylem are renewable resource. They are rich in sugar polymers, constitute the majority of plant biomass, and are an important carbin sink. As vascular meristems are responsible for generating most of the plant biomass, an understanding of vascular development will provide markers for breeding of bioenergy crops, and enable modulation of vascular developmental pathways to maximise wood formation.

Research Groups

Department of Biosciences

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Etchells, J. P. & Turner, S. R. (2009). Lateral Meristems. In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Wiley.

Edited book

  • de Lucas, Miguel & Etchells, J. Peter (2017). Xylem. Methods in Molecular Biology. Humana Press.

Journal Article

Other (Print)


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