Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Christopher West

BA, MA, Cambridge; PhD Oct 1997, Manchester
Senior Lecturer
School of Biology

Background: 1998-2003: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Manchester; 2004 onwards: BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, Leeds

Contact:  Manton 9.07, +44(0) 113 34 32915, email address for  

Research Interests

DNA double strand break repair in Arabidopsis

Work in the West lab is focussed on understanding how plants repair and respond to chromosomal breaks. These are breaks in both strands of the DNA duplex, and DNA double strand (DSB) repair and response mechanisms are crucial for cellular survival and the faithful transmission of genetic information. Unrepaired DSBs can inhibit gene expression, DNA replication and lead to mutagenesis and cell death. Understanding these pathways is fundamental for improvement of plant growth under environmental stress and the directed manipulation of the genome in biotechnology. DSB repair pathways are of particular importance in the seed stage of the plant lifecycle, as DNA damage accumulates in seeds due to low activity of cellular maintenance mechanisms in the dry quiescent state.

DNA damage arises from environmental stresses, such as UV-B and background radiation. In addition, the products of cellular metabolism, in particular (Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) leads to a constant background level of DNA damage which requires continuous repair. Organisms have evolved specific pathways to repair different forms of damage, which are essential for organism survival and minimise mutations in the genome. A highly toxic form of DNA damage is the DSB, which represents fragmentation of a chromosome.

In our lab we use multidisciplinary approaches, incorporating omics, molecular genetics, biochemical and cell biology approaches to study DNA repair processes in the model plant Arabidopsis and crop species including barley and Brassica A major focus is understanding the roles of DNA damage and response factors in seeds and their potential as predictive markers of seed quality and the genetic improvement of germination. In addition, we are using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to investigate mechanisms of recombination in plants.

For more details please visit our web page: http://chriswest2000.wixsite.com/chriswestlab


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY1234 - Practical Genetics

Modules taught

BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Skills
BIOL2301/03 - Skills for Biol Sci & Biosciences
BIOL5152M - Topics in Plant Science
BIOL5251M - Plant Biotechnology
BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal
BIOL5392M - Bioscience MSc Research Project
BLGY1234 - Practical Genetics
BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY1303/04/1005 - Level 1 Tutorials
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2163 - How Plants Work
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3152 - Advanced Topics in Human Genetics
BLGY3173 - Plant Growth, Resources and Food Security
BLGY3340 - Biology Research Projects
BLGY5380M - Extended Research Project


Member of Masters Taught Student Education Committee
Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee

Centre membership: The Centre for Plant Sciences

Group Leader Dr Christopher West  (Senior Lecturer)

DNA double strand break repair in Arabidopsis 

Dr Wanda Waterworth  (Research Fellow)


Robbie Gillett (Primary supervisor) 80% FTE
Ambra De Simone (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Nurhayati Razak (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE