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Dr Tom Bennett

Dr Tom Bennett

Post Doctoral Research Associate

Sainsbury Laboratory
47 University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

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

Research Interests

The prime motivation during my career has been a desire to understand the emergence of developmental patterns in plants. I have mainly worked with the patterning at the organismal level, including the regulation of shoot branching in Arabidopsis thaliana and the patterning of colonies of the moss Physcomitrella patens. On the other hand, my work in the Arabidopsis root examined cellular level patterning in the root cap. A unifying conclusion from this body of research (and one familiar to many other plant developmental biologists in recent years) has been the importance of hormonal signalling in patterning processes across all developmental scales. As a result, my research has become inextricably involved in understanding the nature and function of these signals (particularly auxin and strigolactone), as a prerequisite to understanding how they regulate patterning. There are thus two distinct themes in my work, firstly hormonal signalling per se and secondly the role of hormonal signalling in developmental patterning.

My current research has 4 main strands:

1)     Identifying the mechanism of strigolactone signalling in Arabidopsis.

2)     Analysing the nature of auxin transport in Arabidopsis stems.

3)     Identifying how strigolactone signalling modulates auxin transport in stems (and other tissues)

4)     Understanding how strigolactone and auxin together form a regulatory network that controls shoot branching in Arabidopsis.

Key Publications

Soundappan I, Bennett T, Morffy N, Liang Y, Stanga, JP, Abbas A, Leyser O, Nelson DC (2015). SMAX1-LIKE/D53 family members enable distinct MAX2-dependent responses to strigolactones and karrikins in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, Nov 6. pii: tpc.15.00562. [Epub ahead of print]

Bennett T. (2015). PIN proteins and the evolution of plant development. Trends in Plant Science 20, 498-507.

Bennett TA, Liu MM, Aoyama, T, Wang XY, Bierfreund NM, Braun M, Coudert Y, Dennis RJ, O’Connor D, White CD, Decker EL, Reski R, Harrison CJ. (2014). Plasma membrane targeted PIN proteins drive shoot development in a moss. Current Biology 24, 2776-2785.

Bennett T, van den Toorn A, Willemsen V, Scheres B. (2014). Precise control of plant stem cell activity through parallel regulatory inputs. Development 141, 4055-4064.

Bennett T, Brockington S, Rothfels C, Graham S, Stevenson S, Kutchan T, Rolf M, Thomas P, Wong GK, Leyser O, Glover BJ, Harrison CJ. (2014). Paralagous radiations of PIN proteins with multiple origins of non-canonical PIN structure. Molecular Biology and Evolution 31, 2042-2060.

Bennett T, Leyser O. (2014). Strigolactone signalling: standing on the shoulders of DWARFs. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 22C, 7-13.

Bennett T, Leyser O. (2014). The auxin question: a philosophical overview. In ‘Auxin and its role in Plant Development’ (E. Zažímalová, J. Petrasek & E. Benkova, Eds.). Berlin: Springer.

Bennett T, Hines G, Leyser, O. (2014). Canalization: what the flux? Trends in Genetics 30, 41-48.

Prusinkiewicz, P., Crawford, S., Smith, R., Ljung, K., Bennett, T., Ongaro, V. and Leyser, O. (2009). Control of Bud Activation by an Auxin Transport Switch. PNAS 106, 17431-17436.

Bennett, T., Sieberer, T., Willett, B., Booker, J., Luschnig, C. and Leyser, O. (2006). The MAX pathway controls shoot branching by regulating auxin transport. Current Biology 16, 553-563.