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The Coordination of Development

Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge (SLCU), Cambridge, UK

19-21 September, 2018


Speaker Profiles

Patrick Achard

Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes (IBMP), France

Talk title: Long-distance transport of gibberellins in plants.

The Achard Group is mostly focused on research into the mechanisms allowing GA-responsive growth under different environmental conditions. They are also investigating the transport of GAs in plants, particularly the long-distance movement of endogenously made GAs across plant organs.

Above image: Xylem sap of grafted Arabidopsis.

Achard Group website

Tim Brodribb

School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia

Talk title: Coordination between the vascular supply and stomatal demand for water in leaves.

The Brodribb Lab looks at the evolution of plant physiology in terrestrial plants. An expanding knowledge of phylogenetic relationships between living species allows the team to explore how key functions of plants have changed over millenia. The lab's focus is mainly on the tubes (xylem) and valves (stomata) that make leaves work. Brodribb's research focuses on how water transport and water use have evolved together in plants.

Above image: Vein and stomatal densities of a fern and angiosperm, coordinated by cell size.

Brodribb Lab website



Simon Gilroy

Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Talk title: Coordinating long-range stress signaling in Arabidopsis.

The Gilroy Lab is interested in how plants sense and respond to their environment and how these signals regulate plant development. The research emphasis of the lab is to try and understand these processes at the cellular level. The team combines advanced microscopy approaches such as confocal microscopy with biochemistry and molecular biology to address a wide range of biological questions related to how plants respond to abiotic stresses, gravity, touch stimuli, how they regulate growth and how they respond to spaceflight environment.   

Above image: Long-distance wound-induced Ca2+ signaling visualized using Arabidopsis expressing GCaMP3, a GFP-based Ca2+ sensor.

Gilroy Lab website


Stefan Kepinski

Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds, UK

Talk title: Gravity and the shaping of plant form: growth angle control in root and shoot branches.

The Kepinski lab is focused on understanding the regulation of plant development by the hormone auxin with projects ranging from the earliest events of auxin receptor complex formation to root hair development and the control of growth angle of plant organs.

Above image: Lateral roots growing at non-vertical GSAs show no asymmetry in auxin response, visualised using the reporter DR5v2.

Kepinski Lab website

Mark Lagrimini

Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, USA

Talk title: Is trehalose-6-phosphate a key regulator of carbon utilization and partitioning?

Professor Lagrimini was recently appointed to the position of Vice Provost of Research and Extension at UC ANR. Prior to his new role, Professor Lagrimini was professor in the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied the regulation of carbohydrate partitioning in maize and its impact on drought tolerance.

Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi

Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Japan

Talk title: Long-distance peptide signalling mediating systemic regulation of nitrogen acquisition.

Professor Matsubayashi's team is working to clarify the mechanisms by which plant development is regulated through identification of novel ligands such as small peptides and their specific receptors using Arabidopsis genome information, biochemical analysis and phenotypic observation.

Above image: CEP-CEPR-CEPD system mediates long-distance nitrogen (N)-demand signaling.

Matsubayashi website



 Richard Morris 2

Richard Morris

Computational and Systems Biology, John Innes Centre, UK

Talk title: Green Telecommunication

Professor Morris' research uses mathematical modelling and computational approaches to solve problems in biology. He develops models and associated software to explain how plants transfer a signal through the plant following an environmental cue, to initiate developmental changes. Professor Morris' research also helps to investigate flowering time, plant-microbe interactions and biomechanical processes.

Richard Morris' webpage

Jarmila Pittermann

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department, UC Santa Cruz, USA

Talk title: Adaptive radiations and novel traits: co-ordination of
xylem structure and function through deep time.

The Pittermann Lab studies the structure and function of plants with a focus on vascular tissue.  What is the adaptive significance of species’ functional traits, and how can they inform evolutionary ecophysiology of ancient and extant flora?  How does physiology relate to biogeography in current and past climates? How will climate change affect the California flora, and can physiology provide clues to species’ range limits? 

Pittermann Lab website


Salomé Prat

Department of Plant Molecular Genetics, Centro Nacional de Biotechnologia (CNB), Spain

Talk title: Thermomorphogenesis regulation by the PIF-BES1/BZR1 transcription module.

Professor Prat is an expert in plant molecular genetics, with broad know-how in the areas of light and hormonal signalling in plants. Her group identified a protein interaction cascade involving the DELLA repressors, which mediates antagonistic control of plant growth by light and gibberellins. Work by her group likewise demonstrated that a day length-pathway related to that controlling floral transition in Arabidopsis modulates storage organ formation in potato. She identified two potato FT paralogs that respectively act as the mobile flowering and tuberization signals, and showed that in potato the CONSTANS factor suppresses tuberization LDs, by activating a further member of the FT family which acts as negative regulator of the FT mobile tuberization signal.

Prat Group website

Adrienne Roeder

The Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, Cornell University, USA

Talk title: How variable cells make reproducible organs.

Research at the Roeder Lab falls at the intersection of cell biology and developmental biology, focusing on two interrelated fundamental questions: (1) how are variable cell sizes produced during development and (2) how do reproducible organ sizes and shapes emerge from the variable growth of their cells? The theme emerging from the lab’s research is the importance of cellular variability in plant development. This principle is surprising because biologists generally think of development as being a highly regulated and reproducible process, where variability must be suppressed. Instead the Roeder Lab is finding that the plant utilises this variability to produce regularity.

Above image: Cellular growth is highly variable.  Heat map showing the growth ratio (cell area after 6 hour of growth divided by initial cell area) in Arabidopsis sepal epidermal cells, which have been segmented (outlined in light blue) and tracked with MorphoGraphX.  The heat map is superimposed on a projection of the fluorescently labeled plasma membranes  and nuclei (both in greyscale).

Roeder Lab website

Sandrine Ruffel

Plant Integrative Biology Institute, INRA, France

Talk title: Regulatory network behind systemic nitrogen signalling in Arabidopsis.

Dr Ruffel is leading a project on nitrogen-related long-distance signalling in Arabidopsis and how heterogeneous nitrate availability triggers an unbalanced response of roots to preferentially grow and take-up nitrate where it is available that depends largely on root-shoot communication affects. Dr Ruffel is focusing on the role of cytokinin translocation in this systemic signalling by combining genetic and transcriptomic approaches in Arabidopsis.

Above image: Arabidopis plant in split-root system to unravel systemic nitrogen signaling controlling root plasticity in heterogenous nitrate environment.

Research Group website


Hitoshi Sakakibara

Graduate School of Bioagricultural Studies, Nagoya University, Japan             

Talk title: Quantitative and qualitative tuning of cytokinin actions for plant growth optimisation

Hitoshi Sakakibara is the Editor-in-Chief of Plant & Cell Physiology and Group Director for the Plant Productivity Systems Research Group at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science. Dr Sakakibara's laboratory for plant signalling studies molecular mechanisms underlying optimisation of plant growth and development in response to environmental cues with focusing on phytohormone function.

Above image: Elucidation of molecular mechanisms underlying
growth optimisation in response to nutrient availability

Sakakibara Research Group website


Alison Smith

Department of Metabolic Biology, John Innes Centre, UK                                      

Talk title: Growing in the dark

Professor Smith researches starch and sucrose metabolism in the model plant Arabidopsis and in crops including cereals and potatoes. She investigates the genetic and molecular control of starch degradation in leaves and storage organs, and how this is coordinated with plant growth over the day-night cycle and with germination and sprouting. Her research also explores how starch granules are formed, and factors that determine the rate and amount of starch accumulation in cereal grains.

Above image: Starch-containing cells separated from a potato tuber.

Professor Smith's Webpage