Research Group Leader
University of Cambridge
Cambridge CB2 1LR
Office Phone: 01223 761127
Phil’s group is interested in how temperature is perceived by plants, and how these signals are integrated into development. To address these questions, the lab is applying a multi-disciplinary approach, exploiting plant genetics, biochemical analyses and modelling approaches. Key questions being addressed by the lab include:
How is temperature perceived?
How eukaryotes sense temperature is poorly understood. Plants are sessile organisms, and highly responsive to small differences in temperature, making them ideal systems to identify the signal transduction pathways involved in temperature sensing. To address this question we have carried out a genetic screen for components of the temperature perception pathway in Arabidopsis. This screen revealed the importance of H2A.Z-nucleosomes in mediating temperature responses on transcription. We are currently mapping many more genes in the temperature perception pathway to understand more fully how temperature is sensed. We are also studying the mechanistic basis of temperature perception through a collaboration with the structural biology group of Daniela Rhodes at the MRC-LMB.
What is the regulatory logic underpinning the floral transition?
The floral transition is an important developmental decision, and temperature information is key for the correct timing of flowering. We are analysing how warm temperature promotes flowering. To understand the regulatory logic underpinning the floral transition we have adopted a modelling approach with the group of Richard Morris at the JIC.
What is the temperature epigenome?
Small changes in temperature result in large changes in gene expression globally. The temperature transcriptome is tightly regulated by alternative nucleosomes containing H2A.Z, and we are analysing how these marks change in response to temperature. Is it possible to engineer altered temperature perception status? It is predicted that for every 1 ºC increase in temperature there is a corresponding drop of about 10 % in crop yields. This raises the interesting possibility that it might be possible to breed plants with optimised temperature responses for particular climates. We working on several approaches to alter temperature responsiveness in a tissue specific manner.
Selected recent publications
H2A.Z containing nucleosomes mediate the thermosensory response in Arabidopsis. Kumar SV and Wigge PA Cell: 140:136-47
FT protein acts as a long-range signal in Arabidopsis. Jaeger KE, Wigge PA. Curr Biol. 2007 Jun 19;17(12):1050-4. Epub 2007 May 31.
Integration of spatial and temporal information during floral induction in Arabidopsis. Wigge PA, Kim MC, Jaeger KE, Busch W, Schmid M, Lohmann J, Weigel D. Science. 2005 Aug 12;309(5737):1056-9.
Plant chemical biology: Florigen takes two to tango. Mylne JS, Wigge PA. Nat Chem Biol. 2011 Sep 19;7(10):665-6. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.666.
FT, a mobile developmental signal in plants. Wigge PA. Curr Biol. 2011 May 10;21(9):R374-8.
Ambient temperature perception in plants. Samach A, Wigge PA. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2005 Oct;8(5):483-6. Review.