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Prof Jane Langdale CBE

Professorial Fellow

Professor of Plant Development


I went to a grammar school in Coventry and then on to an undergraduate degree in Applied Biology at the University of Bath. My PhD was in human genetics and was carried out at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School London. It was after my PhD that I developed an interest in plant genetics and I went to Yale University for five years to carry out postdoctoral research. In 1990 I returned to the UK to set up my own research group in the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford. I was the Tutorial Fellow in Biology at Queen’s from 1994 until I became a Senior Research Fellow in 2006. I have been a member of Governing Body since 1994.


I lecture in all three years of the Biological Sciences BA. In the first year I teach methods and applications of recombinant DNA technology, and in the second year I teach crop genetics in the ‘Plants and People’ course. In the third year I run a specialist module on the evolution of developmental mechanisms in plants. I give tutorials in basic genetics and plant developmental biology.


I am interested in understanding the genetic mechanisms that underpin the formation of leaves. In this context, my research group is focusing on two main projects. The first aims to use our understanding of developmental processes to alter leaf anatomy in rice. This work forms part of a multinational collaborative project to create a more highly yielding ‘C4’ rice. The second project aims to understand how leaves evolved. Primitive land plants had naked shoots with no lateral appendages. Leaves evolved on at least three independent occasions over the last 450 million years and we are investigating whether similar or different mechanisms were adopted on each occasion. This will allow us to determine whether the current diversity of leaf form is generated by different mechanisms, or by different outputs from a conserved mechanism.

For more details and a complete list of publications see:


Langdale, J.A. (2011) C4 cycles: past present and future research on C4 photosynthesis. The Plant Cell 23, 3879-3892.

Waters, M.T. & Langdale, J.A. (2009) The making of a chloroplast. EMBO J. 28, 2861- 2873.

Langdale, J.A. (2008) Evolution of developmental mechanisms in plants. Current Opinions in Genetics & Development. 18, 368-373.

Hibberd, J.M, Sheehy, J. & Langdale, J.A. (2008) Using C4 photosynthesis to increase the yield of rice – rationale and feasibility. Current Opinions in Plant Biology 11, 228-231.