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Dr Katie Abley

Dr Katie Abley

Research Associate

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR
Office Phone: +44(0)1223 761100

Research Interests

I am interested in how genetically identical individuals can differ from each other even within a common environment. Such inter-individual variability can be beneficial when future environmental conditions are unpredictable. This phenomenon has been studied in microbes, where variability between genetically identical cells forms the basis for some forms of antibiotic resistance. Here, specific gene regulatory networks appear to have evolved to amplify stochastic molecular fluctuations, creating differences between genetically identical cells. However, little is known about the mechanisms that underlie phenotypic variability in plants. Previous work suggests that elevated variability in seed germination time confers a selective advantage in unpredictable environments. I am using Arabidopsis seed germination as a study system for uncovering developmental mechanisms underlying phenotypic variability in plants.

Previous work

During my PhD, I used a combination of experimental work and computational modelling to investigate the mechanisms underlying cell polarity in plants and animals.

Key Publications

Abley K, Locke JC, Leyser HO. 2016. Developmental mechanisms underlying variable, invariant and plastic phenotypes. Annals of botany, 117: 733-748.

Abley K, Sauret-Gueto S , Marée AFM, Coen E. Formation of Polarity Convergences underlying Shoot Outgrowths. eLife (in press).

Abley K*, De Reuille PB*, Strutt D, Bangham A, Prusinkiewicz P, Maree AF, Grieneisen VA, Coen E. 2013. An intracellular partitioning-based framework for tissue cell polarity in plants and animals. Development, 140: 2061-74.

*These authors contributed equally