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Dr Charles Melnyk

Dr Charles Melnyk

Clare College Junior Research Fellow

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

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

Research Interests

My research focuses on the process of plant grafting: how two plants join together after cutting to form a chimeric organism. This technique has horticultural relevance, but also has scientific interest as grafting demonstrates a remarkable ability to heal wounds and overcome recognition barriers to adhere tissues and connect the vasculature. I am using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to investigate how plants graft at the molecular, genetic and developmental levels. I have developed a series of tools that allow me to monitor cell division, cell differentiation and vascular connection at the graft junction. Now, my research focus on what genes and processes are driving connection, and understanding why certain plant species readily graft, whereas others do not. This self/non-self recognition may be key to understanding how parasitic plants infect their hosts and have relevance for improving graft formation and combating parasitic plant infections.

Key Publications

Melnyk, C. W. (2016), Connecting the plant vasculature to friend or foe. New Phytol. doi:10.1111/nph.14218

Melnyk CW, Schuster C, Leyser O, Meyerowitz EM. 2015. A Developmental Framework for Graft Formation and Vascular Reconnection in Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Biology 25, 1–13. 

Melnyk CW*, Molnar A*, Bassett A, Baulcombe DC. 2011. Mobile 24 nt small RNAs direct transcriptional gene silencing in the root meristems of Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Biology. 21(19):1678-83.   * - joint first author

Molnar A*, Melnyk CW*, Bassett A, Hardcastle T, Dunn R, Baulcombe DC. 2010. Small silencing RNAs in plants are mobile and direct epigenetic modification in recipient cells. Science 328(5980):872-5.          * - joint first author

Mosher RA, Melnyk CW, Kelly KA, Dunn RM, Studholme DJ, Baulcombe DC. 2009. Uniparental expression of PolIV-dependent siRNAs in developing endosperm of Arabidopsis. Nature 460(7252):283-6.

Recent Reviews

Melnyk CW, Meyerowitz EM. 2015. Plant Grafting. Current Biology. 25(5):183-188.

Melnyk CW, Molnar A, Baulcombe DC. 2011. Intercellular and systemic movement of RNA silencing signals. EMBO J. 30(17):3553-63.

An Arabidopsis graft junction in the hypocotyl visualised using confocal microscopy of fluorescently labelled cell membranes and nuclei.