Professor Paul Jarvis' research is focused on chloroplast development in plants. Chloroplasts are the cellular organelles responsible for photosynthesis, and so they are of vital importance, not just to plants but to the vast majority of organisms, including animals and humans, as well as to agricultural productivity. Chloroplasts are remarkably complex structures, each one containing numerous copies of roughly 3000 different proteins with functions linked to photosynthesis and other essential processes. Most of these proteins are not made inside chloroplasts, but instead are made elsewhere in the cell and must be imported by the chloroplasts as they develop. Jarvis' research aims to understand how these essential proteins are delivered to developing chloroplasts. His research group works with a small plant called thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana; a widely studied model organism) as well as with certain crop species.
Recent work in the laboratory has led to the breakthrough discovery that chloroplasts are directly regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system – an important system for the removal of unwanted proteins in eukaryotic cells. The potential use of this discovery in crops is being investigated. Jarvis joined the Department of Plant Sciences and Wolfson College in October 2013. Prior to that, he was at the University of Leicester for 14 years. Jarvis carried out his doctoral studies with Caroline Dean at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, and then did postdoctoral work with Joanne Chory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.