Dr Nicky Creux
Plant and Soil Sciences
Pollination is a fundamental process in plant biology describing the transfer of pollen from the male to female parts of the plant. In out-crossing plant species this pollen transfer is difficult, often requiring the movement of pollen between plants sometimes across great distances. Plants have evolved a large array of different strategies to overcome these physical barriers using either abiotic or biotic mechanisms such as wind, rain or insects to mobilize pollen. Many of these pollination strategies are affected by external environmental conditions such as seasonal changes and fluctuations in ambient temperature. A second dilemma faced by out-crossing plants is how to limit self-pollination; very often this is achieved by offsetting the maturation timing of the male and female floral organs. Currently there is little information on how plants regulate the timing of floral organ maturation or on how plants perceive changes in the environment and what implications climate change may have on these precisely timed mechanisms or pollination strategies.
The Crop Floral Biology and Environments team aims to combine molecular techniques with detailed physiological measurements (including time-lapse photography) to investigate how climatic changes and extreme weather events affect plant and flower development with a special focus on flower physiology, flower health and pollinator visits. We follow flowers from bud opening to seed development to assess the impact of these weather conditions may have on plant reproduction and potentially crop yield.
- The effects of a changing environment and late-planting dates on maize plant development and yield in South Africa. (Funding: Maize Trust and DSI through GrainSA coordination)
- Assessing the effect of planting date and environment on sunflower development, Sclerotinia head rot and yield. (Funding: Oil and Protein Seed Development Trust)
- The impact of heat waves on floral organ development at the physiological and molecular level during anthesis in domesticated sunflower. (Funding: NRF - Thuthuka)
CREUX NM, Harmer SL. 2019. Circadian Rhythms in Plants. Editor: Ronald PC, Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a034611
Atamian HS, CREUX NM, Brown EA, Garner AG, Blackman BK, Harmer SL. 2016. Circadian regulation of sunflower heliotropism, floral orientation, and pollinator visits. Science 353: 587- 590
Spokevicius AV, Taylor L, Melder E, Van Beveran K, Tibbits J, CREUX NM, Bossinger G. 2016. The use of Induced Somatic Sector Analysis (ISSA) for studying genes and promoters involved in wood formation and secondary stem development. JoVE 116 doi: 10.3791/54553
Hussey SG, Mizrachi E, CREUX NM, Myburg AA. 2013. Navigating the transcriptional roadmap regulating secondary cell wall deposition in plants. Frontiers in plant science 4:325
CREUX NM, De Castro MH, Ranik M, Maleka MF, Myburg AA. 2013. Diversity and cis-element architecture of the promoter regions of cellulose synthase genes in Eucalyptus. Tree Genetics and Genomes 9: 989-1004