Dr Mark Fricker MA PhD
Associate Professor in Plant Sciences

Academic Director, Pembroke College


Tel  +44 (0)1865 275015
Fax +44 (0)1865 275074

Last Modified: January 2015

Dr MD Fricker

Research Area

Imaging signalling and transport in complex systems

Research Description

Signal transduction: The primary research focus of the lab has expanded dramatically in the last few years. We have developed a suite of software programs to allow quantitative fluorescence measurements of physiological parameters, such as pH, calcium, glutathione and redox potential in intact, living tissues using confocal laser scanning microscopy. Most of the recent work has focused on the new ratioable roGFPs  that report redox potential, with Andreas Meyer and Marcus Schwarzlander in Bonn, and Lee Sweetlove in Oxford. We have also developed fluorescence assays for nitric oxide in fungal pathogenesis with Sarah Gurr, Marketa Samalova and Jasper Johnson, and started calcium measurements in phloem tissue with Jens Hafke and Aart van Bel from Giessen, and using cameleons with John Love and George Littlejohn in Exeter.

Imaging transport dynamics: We have also developed a novel scintillation imaging technique to map solute transport dynamics in fungal mycelial systems that has opened up a completely new area of research. We have already found a marked pulsatile component of amino acid transport superimposed on a rapid underlying flux in several species, preferential resource allocation to C-rich sinks, abrupt switching between different pre-existing transport routes, organization of the network into well demarcated domains differing in phase or frequency of oscillations and phase-coupling between colonies during fusion.

Analysis of these complex events has required new analytical software tools, so we have developed Fourier- and Hilbert-based phase-mapping techniques to analyse the oscillatory component; mass-distribution analyses to map resource allocation and new planar spatial network analysis system to characterise the topological network. We are now linking these macro-scale approaches with confocal imaging to understand the mechanism of amino-acid transport further by measurement of the rate of solute movement through the dynamic tubular vacuole system at sub-hyphal scale using a combination of confocal microscopy, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and mathematical modelling. The effect of varying growth and branching pattern on the predicted flux in the simulation suggest that transport exerts an important overall control on the morphology of the colony. To build a completely integrate picture of the control of resource allocation in such a de-centralised system we have initiated molecular and metabolomic approaches to directly correlate metabolite levels, nutrient fluxes, gene expression patterns, the control of morphological development and integration of the network. So far, we have cloned one of the proteinases postulated to be involved in part of the autolytic re-modelling program in collaboration with K. Burton and D. Eastwood at HRI, Wellesbourne.

Fungal networks: At the other end of the spatial scale, we have also started to explore the relationship between colony topology, foraging efficiency, resilience to attack and overall cost using graph theory and network analysis, in collaboration with L. Boddy, Cardiff, the Oxford CABDyN (Complex Agent-Based dynamic Networks) cluster and EU MMCOMNET (Measuring and Modelling Complex Networks across Domains). The latest models under development with with Luke Heaton, Nick Jones and Eduardo Lopez attempt to couple mass flow with network architecture.

Slime mold networks: The work on fungal networks has also led to collaboration with Toshiyuki Nakagaki and his team in Hokkaido to understand network formation in the acellular slime mold Physarum polycephalum. We have recently shown that  it can form networks with comparable efficiency, fault tolerance, and cost to those of real-world infrastructure networks such as the Tokyo rail system. The core mechanisms needed for adaptive network formation can be captured in a biologically inspired mathematical model that may be useful to guide network construction in other domains.

Fricker Group Members


Tero, A., Takagi, S., Saigusa, T., Bebber, D.P., Fricker, M.D., Yumiki, K., Kobayashi, R., and Nakagaki, T. Rules for biologically-inspired adaptive network design. Science 327, 439-442 DOI: 10.1126/science.1177894

Full Publication List (while at this department)

Lichius, A, Goryachev, A.B, Fricker, M.D, Obara, B, Castro-Longoria, E, Read, N.D. (2014) CDC-42 and RAC-1 regulate opposite chemotropisms in Neurospora crassa Journal of Cell Science. 127 (9): pp 1953-1965.

Littlejohn, G.R, Mansfield, J.C, Christmas, J.T, Witterick, E, Fricker, M.D, Grant, M.R, Smirnoff, N, Everson, R.M, Moger, J, Love, J. (2014) An update: Improvements in imaging perfluorocarbon-mounted plant leaves with implications for studies of plant pathology, physiology, development and cell biology Frontiers in Plant Science. 5:.

Darrah, P.R, Fricker, M.D. (2013) Foraging by a wood-decomposing fungus is ecologically adaptive Environmental Microbiology..

Samalova, M, Meyer, A.J, Gurr, S.J, Fricker, M.D. (2013) Robust anti-oxidant defences in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae confer tolerance to the host oxidative burst New Phytologist..

Au, K.K.C, Perez-Gomez, J, Neto, H, Muller, C, Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M.D, Moore, I. (2012) A perturbation in glutathione biosynthesis disrupts endoplasmic reticulum morphology and secretory membrane traffic in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Journal. 71 (6): pp 881-894.

Heaton, L.L.M, Lopez, E, Maini, P.K, Fricker, M.D, Jones, N.S. (2012) Advection, diffusion, and delivery over a network Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics. 86 (2):.

Heaton, L, Obara, B, Grau, V, Jones, N, Nakagaki, T, Boddy, L, Fricker, M.D. (2012) Analysis of fungal networks Fungal Biology Reviews..

Obara, B, Grau, V, Fricker, M.D. (2012) A bioimage informatics approach to automatically extract complex fungal networks Bioinformatics. 28 (18): pp 2374-2381.

Onnela, J.-P, Fenn, D.J, Reid, S, Porter, M.A, Mucha, P.J, Fricker, M.D, Jones, N.S. (2012) Taxonomies of networks from community structure Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics. 86 (3):.

Schwarzlander, M, Logan, D.C, Johnston, I.G, Jones, N.S, Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2012) Pulsing of membrane potential in individual mitochondria: A stress-induced mechanism to regulate respiratory bioenergetics in Arabidopsis Plant Cell. 24 (3): pp 1188-1201.

Schwarzlander, M, Murphy, M.P, Duchen, M.R, Logan, D.C, Fricker, M.D, Halestrap, A.P, Muller, F.L, Rizutto, R, Dick, T.P, Meyer, A.J, Sweetlove, L.J. (2012) Mitochondrial 'flashes': a radical concept repHined Trends in Cell Biology..

Yasumura, Y, Pierik, R, Fricker, M.D, Voesenek, L.A.C.J, Harberd, N.P. (2012) Studies of Physcomitrella patens reveal that ethylenemediated submergence responses arose relatively early in land-plant evolution Plant Journal. 72 (6): pp 947-959.

Schwarzlander, M, Logan, D.C, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2011) The circularly permuted yellow fluorescent protein cpYFP that has been used as a superoxide probe is highly responsive to pH but not superoxide in mitochondria: Implications for the existence of superoxide 'flashes' Biochemical Journal. 437 (3): pp 381-387.

Smith, D.M.D, Onnela, J.-P, Lee, C.F, Fricker, M.D, Johnson, N.F. (2011) Network automata: Coupling structure and function in dynamic networks Advances in Complex Systems. 14 (3): pp 317-339.

Boddy, L, Wood, J, Redman, E, Hynes, J, Fricker, M.D. (2010) Fungal network responses to grazing Fungal Genetics and Biology. 47 (6): pp 522-530.

Heaton, L.L.M, Lopez, E, Maini, P.K, Fricker, M.D, Jones, N.S. (2010) Growth-induced mass flows in fungal networks Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 277 (1698): pp 3265-3274.

Tero, A, Takagi, S, Saigusa, T, Ito, K, Bebber, D.P, Fricker, M.D, Yumiki, K, Kobayashi, R, Nakagaki, T. (2010) Rules for biologically inspired adaptive network design Science. 327 (5964): pp 439-442.

Boddy, L, Hynes, J, Bebber, D.P, Fricker, M.D. (2009) Saprotrophic cord systems: Dispersal mechanisms in space and time Mycoscience. 50 (1): pp 9-19.

Fricker, M.D, Boddy, L, Nakagaki, T, Bebber, D.P. (2009) Adaptive biological networks Understanding Complex Systems. ISBN: 9783640000000. pp 51-70.

Furch, A.C.U, Van, Bel A.J.E, Fricker, M.D, Felle, H.H, Fuchs, M, Hafke, J.B. (2009) Sieve element Ca2+channels as relay stations between remote stimuli and sieve tube occlusion in vicia faba Plant Cell. 21 (7): pp 2118-2132.

Hafke, J.B, Furch, A.C.U, Fricker, M.D, van, Bel A.J.E. (2009) Forisome dispersion in Vicia faba is triggered by Ca2+ hotspots created by concerted action of diverse Ca2+ channels in sieve elements Plant Signaling and Behavior. 4 (10): pp 968-972

Lehmann, M, Schwarzländer, M, Obata, T, Sirikantaramas, S, Burow, M, Olsen, CE, Tohge, T, Fricker, MD, Møller, BL, Fernie, AR, Sweetlove, LJ, Laxa, M. (2009) The metabolic response of arabidopsis roots to oxidative stress is distinct from that of heterotrophic cells in culture and highlights a complex relationship between the levels of transcripts, metabolites, and flux Molecular Plant. 2 (3): pp 390-406.

Marty, L, Siala, W, Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Wirtz, M, Sweetlove, L.J, Meyer, Y, Meyer, A.J, Reichheld, J.-P, Hell, R. (2009) The NADPH-dependent thioredoxin system constitutes a functional backup for cytosolic glutathione reductase in Arabidopsis Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 (22): pp 9109-9114.

Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2009) Monitoring the in vivo redox state of plant mitochondria: Effect of respiratory inhibitors, abiotic stress and assessment of recovery from oxidative challenge Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics. 1787 (5): pp 468-475.

Fricker, M.D, Tlalka, M, Bebber, D, Takagi, S, Watkinson, S.C, Darrah, P.R. (2008) Corrigendum to "Fourier-based spatial mapping of oscillatory phenomena in fungi" [Fungal Genet. Biol. 44 (2007) 1077-1084] (DOI:10.1016/j.fgb.2007.02.012) Fungal Genetics and Biology. 45 (4): pp 579.

Fricker, M.D, Lee, J.A, Bebber, D.P, Tlalka, M, Hynes, J, Darrah, P.R, Watkinson, S.C, Boddy, L. (2008) Imaging complex nutrient dynamics in mycelial networks Journal of Microscopy. 231 (2): pp 317-331.

Fricker, MD, Lee, JA, Boddy, L, Bebber, DP. (2008) The Interplay between Structure and Function in Fungal Networks Topologica. 1 (4):.

Ingle, R.A, Fricker, M.D, Smith, J.A.C. (2008) Evidence for nickel/proton antiport activity at the tonoplast of the hyperaccumulator plant Alyssum lesbiacum Plant Biology. 10 (6): pp 746-753.

Morgan, M.J, Lehmann, M, Schwarzlander, M, Baxter, C.J, Sienkiewicz-Porzucek, A, Williams, T.C.R, Schauer, N, Fernie, A.R, Fricker, M.D, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J, Finkemeier, I. (2008) Decrease in manganese superoxide dismutase leads to reduced root growth and affects tricarboxylic acid cycle flux and mitochondrial redox homeostasis Plant Physiology. 147 (1): pp 101-114.

Rotheray, TD, Jones, TH, Fricker, MD, Boddy, L. (2008) Grazing alters network architecture during interspecific mycelial interactions Fungal Ecology. 1 (4): pp 124-132.

Samalova, M, Fricker, M, Moore, I. (2008) Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Plant Membrane Traffic Using Fluorescent Proteins Methods in Cell Biology. 85: pp 353-380.
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Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Muller, C, Marty, L, Brach, T, Novak, J, Sweetlove, L.J, Hell, R, Meyer, A.J. (2008) Confocal imaging of glutathione redox potential in living plant cells Journal of Microscopy. 231 (2): pp 299-316.

Tlalka, M, Bebber, D.P, Darrah, P.R, Watkinson, S.C, Fricker, M.D. (2008) Quantifying dynamic resource allocation illuminates foraging strategy in Phanerochaete velutina Fungal Genetics and Biology. 45 (7): pp 1111-1121.

Tlalka, M, Fricker, M, Watkinson, S. (2008) Imaging of long-distance α-aminoisobutyric acid translocation dynamics during resource capture by Serpula lacrymans Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74 (9): pp 2700-2708.

Bebber, D.P, Hynes, J, Darrah, P.R, Boddy, L, Fricker, M.D. (2007) Biological solutions to transport network design Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B Biologic. 274 (1623): pp 2307-2307.

Fricker, M.D, Tlalka, M, Bebber, D, Tagaki, S, Watkinson, S.C, Darrah, P.R. (2007) Fourier-based spatial mapping of oscillatory phenomena in fungi Fungal Genetics and Biology. 44 (11): pp 1077-1084.

Tlalka, M, Bebber, D.P, Darrah, P.R, Watkinson, S.C, Fricker, M.D. (2007) Emergence of self-organised oscillatory domains in fungal mycelia Fungal Genetics and Biology. 44 (11): pp 1085-1095.

Darrah, P.R, Tlalka, M, Ashford, A, Watkinson, S.C, Fricker, M.D. (2006) The vacuole system is a significant intracellular pathway for longitudinal solute transport in basidiomycete fungi Eukaryotic Cell. 5 (7): pp 1111-1125.

Fricker, M, Runions, J, Moore, I. (2006) Quantitative fluorescence microscopy: From art to science Annual Review of Plant Biology. 57: pp 79-107.

Jarrett, T.C, Ashton, D.J, Fricker, M, Johnson, N.F. (2006) Interplay between function and structure in complex networks Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics. 74 (2):.

Libourel, I.G.L, Van, Bodegom P.M, Fricker, M.D, Ratcliffe, R.G. (2006) Nitrite reduces cytoplasmic acidosis under anoxia Plant Physiology. 142 (4): pp 1710-1717.

Samalova, M, Fricker, M, Moore, I. (2006) Ratiometric fluorescence-imaging assays of plant membrane traffic using polyproteins Traffic. 7 (12): pp 1701-1723.

Watkinson, S.C, Boddy, L, Burton, K, Darrah, P.R, Eastwood, D, Fricker, M.D, Tlalka, M. (2005) New approaches to investigating the function of mycelial networks Mycologist. 19 (1): pp 11-17.

Meskauskas, A, Fricker, M.D, Moore, D. (2004) Simulating colonial growth of fungi with the neighbour-sensing model of hyphal growth Mycological Research. 108 (11): pp 1241-1256.

Hartmann, T.N, Fricker, M.D, Rennenberg, H, Meyer, A.J. (2003) Cell-specific measurement of cytosolic glutathione in poplar leaves Plant, Cell and Environment. 26 (6): pp 965-975

Tlalka, M, Hensman, D, Darrah, P.R, Watkinson, S.C, Fricker, M.D. (2003) Noncircadian oscillations in amino acid transport have complementary profiles in assimilatory and foraging hyphae of Phanerochaete velutina New Phytologist. 158 (2): pp 325-335

Brandizzi, F, Fricker, M, Hawes, C. (2002) A greener world: The revolution in plant bioimaging Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 3 (7): pp 520-530.

Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M.D. (2002) Control of demand-driven biosynthesis of glutathione in green arabidopsis suspension culture cells Plant Physiology. 130 (4): pp 1927-1937.

Tlalka, M, Watkinson, S.C, Darrah, P.R, Fricker, M.D. (2002) Continuous imaging of amino-acid translocation in intact mycelia of Phanerochaete velutina reveals rapid, pulsatile fluxes New Phytologist. 153 (1): pp 173-184.

Fricker, M.D, Meyer, A.J. (2001) Confocal imaging of metabolism in vivo: Pitfalls and possibilities Journal of Experimental Botany. 52 (356): pp 631-640

Meyer, A.J, May, M.J, Fricker, M. (2001) Quantitative in vivo measurement of glutathione in Arabidopsis cells Plant Journal. 27 (1): pp 67-78.

Fricker, M.D, May, M, Meyer, A.J, Sheard, N, White, N.S. (2000) Measurement of glutathione levels in intact roots of Arabidopsis Journal of Microscopy. 198 (3): pp 162-173.

Gutierrez-Alcala, G, Gotor, C, Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M, Vega, J.M, Romero, L.C. (2000) Glutathione biosynthesis in Arabidopsis trichome cells Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 97 (20): pp 11108-11113

Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M.D. (2000) Direct measurement of glutathione in epidermal cells of intact Arabidopsis roots by two-photon laser scanning microscopy Journal of Microscopy. 198 (3): pp 174-181.

Fricker, M.D, Oparka, K.J. (1999) Imaging techniques in plant transport: Meeting review Journal of Experimental Botany. 50: pp 1089-1100

Tlalka, M, Runquist, M, Fricker, M. (1999) Light perception and the role of the xanthophyll cycle in blue-light-dependent chloroplast movements in Lemna trisulca L. Plant Journal. 20 (4): pp 447-459.

Tlalka, M, Fricker, M. (1999) The role of calcium in blue-light-dependent chloroplast movement in Lemna trisulca L. Plant Journal. 20 (4): pp 461-473.

Doe, C.L, Wang, G, Chow, C.-M, Fricker, M.D, Singh, P.B, Jane, Mellor E. (1998) The fission yeast chrome domain encoding gene chp1+ is required for chromosome segregation and shows a genetic interaction with alpha-tubulin Nucleic Acids Research. 26 (18): pp 4222-4229.

Errington, R.J, Fricker, M.D, Wood, J.L, Hall, A.C, White, N.S. (1997) Four-dimensional imaging of living chondrocytes in cartilage using confocal microscopy: A pragmatic approach American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology. 272:

Fricker, MD, Chow, C-M, Errington, RJ, May, M, Mellor, J, Meyer, AJ, Tlalka, M, Vaux, DJ, Wood, J, White, NS. (1997) Quantitative imaging of intact cells and tissues by multi-dimensional confocal fluorescence microscopy Experimental Biology Online. 2 (19): pp 1-23.

Fricker, M, Hollinshead, M, White, N, Vaux, D. (1997) Interphase nuclei of many mammalian cell types contain deep, dynamic, tubular membrane-bound invaginations of the nuclear envelope Journal of Cell Biology. 136 (3): pp 531-544.

Fricker, M.D, White, N.S, Obermeyer, G. (1997) pH gradients are not associated with tip growth in pollen tubes of Lilium longiflorum Journal of Cell Science. 110 (15): pp 1729-1740

Sanchez-Fernandez, R, Fricker, M, Corben, L.B, White, N.S, Sheard, N, Leaver, C.J, Van, Montagu M, Inze, D, May, M.J. (1997) Cell proliferation and hair tip growth in the Arabidopsis root are under mechanistically different forms of redox control Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 94 (6): pp 2745-2750.

White, N.S, Errington, R.J, Fricker, M.D, Wood, J.L. (1996) Aberration control in quantitative imaging of botanical specimens by multidimensional fluorescence microscopy Journal of Microscopy. 181 (2): pp 99-116.

Willmer, CM, Fricker, MD. (1996) Stomata. 2nd Ed. .

Napier, R.M, Trueman, S, Henderson, J, Boyce, J.M, Hawes, C, Fricker, M.D, Venis, M.A. (1995) Purification, sequencing and functions of calreticulin from maize Journal of Experimental Botany. 46 (291): pp 1603-1613

Allan, A.C, Fricker, M.D, Ward, J.L, Beale, M.H, Trewavas, A.J. (1994) Two transduction pathways mediate rapid effects of abscisic acid in Commelina guard cells Plant Cell. 6 (9): pp 1319-1328.

Boyce, J.M, Coates, D, Fricker, M.D, Evans, D.E. (1994) Genomic sequence of a calnexin homolog from Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiology. 106 (4): pp 1691

Fricker, MD, Tlalka, M, Ermantraut, J, Obermeyer, G, Dewey, M, Gurr, S, Patrick, J, White, NS. (1994) Confocal fluorescence ratio imaging of ion activities in plant cells Scanning Microscopy. 8: pp 391-405.

Fricker, M.D, White, N.S, Thiel, G, Millner, P, Blatt, M.R. (1994) Peptides derived from the auxin binding protein elevate Ca2+ and pH in stomatal guard cells of Vicia faba: a confocal fluorescence ratio imaging study. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology. 48: pp 215-228

Larin, Z, Fricker, M.D, Tyler-Smith, C. (1994) De novo formation of several features of a centromere following introduction of a Y alphoid YAC into mammalian cells Human Molecular Genetics. 3 (5): pp 689-695

Larin, Z, Fricker, M.D, Maher, E, Ishikawa-Brush, Y, Southern, E.M. (1994) Fluorescencs in situ hybridisation of multiple probes on a single microscope slide Nucleic Acids Research. 22 (18): pp 3689-3692

Satiat-Jeunemaitre, Beatrice, Henderson, Jancy, Evans, David, Crooks, Kim, Fricker, Mark, Napier, Richard, Hawes, Chris. (1993) Brefeldin A affects the endomembrane system and vesicle trafficking in higher plants Proceedings - Annual Meeting, Microscopy Society of America. pp 192-193

Thiel, G, Blatt, M.R, Fricker, M.D, White, I.R, Millner, P. (1993) Modulation of K+ channels in Vicia stomatal guard cells by peptide homologs to the auxin-binding protein C terminus Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 90 (24): pp 11493-11497.

Fricker, M.D, White, N.S. (1992) Wavelength considerations in confocal microscopy of botanical specimens Journal of Microscopy. 166 (1): pp 29-42

Fricker, M.D, Gilroy, S, Read, N.D, Trewavas, A.J. (1991) Visualisation and measurement of the calcium message in guard cells. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology. 45: pp 177-190

Gilroy, S, Fricker, M.D, Read, N.D, Trewavas, A.J. (1991) Role of calcium in signal transduction of Commelina guard cells Plant Cell. 3 (4): pp 333-344

White, N.S, Bennett, S.T, Kenton, A.Y, Callimassia, M.A, Fricker, M.D. (1991) Characterising plant chromosomes and their 3-D organisation using CLSM Scanning. 13:

White, N.S, Fricker, M.D, Shotton, D.M. (1991) Quantitative visualisation of 3D biological CLSM images Scanning. 13:


Nick Jones (Imperial) - Fungal network modelling
Boguslaw Obara (Durham) - Biological image analysis
Toshiyuki Nakagaki (Hokkaido) - Physarum networks
Lynne Boddy (Cardiff) - Fungal network analysis
David Vaux (Oxford) - Universal fluorescent sensors
Anne Pringle (Harvard) - fungal networks