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Wigge Group

Phil Wigge

Research Group Leader

Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR

Office Phone: 01223 761127

Research Interests

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.

Key Publications

Jung JH., Domijan M., Klose C., Biswas S., Ezer D., Gao M., Khattak AK., Box MS., Charoensawan V., Cortijo S., Kumar M., Grant A., Locke JC., Schäfer E., Jaeger KE., Wigge PA. Phytochromes Function as Thermosensors in Arabidopsis, Science in press. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6005

ELF3 controls thermoresponsive growth in Arabidopsis (2015) Box MS,  Huang BE, DomijaN, D, Jaeger KE, Khattak AK, Yoo SJ, Sedivy EL, Jones DM, Hearn TJ, Webb AAR, Grant A,  Locke JCW, Wigge PA Current Biology 25: 1-6

Transcription factor PIF4 controls the thermosensory activation of flowering (2012) Kumar SV, Lucyshyn D, Jaeger KE, Alos, E, Alvey, E, Harberd, NP and Wigge PA Nature 484:242-5

H2A.Z containing nucleosomes mediate the thermosensory response in Arabidopsis (2010) Kumar SV and Wigge PA Cell: 140:136-47


Ambient temperature signalling in plants. (2013) Wigge PA. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 16:661-6

Research supported by grants from: