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Sainsbury Laboratory


As a scientist I am fascinated by the plasticity of plant development and how this is regulated by both intrinsic and environmental factors. Throughout my research career I aimed to reveal how external signals such as light and temperature control plant shape, size and developmental progression – how are these signals perceived, which molecules are involved in the signalling process and how is a response to these signals generated?

Light and temperature signals often occur concurrently in nature, and – not surprisingly – signalling processes downstream of these two environmental factors are tightly linked. I joined the SLCU as an EMBO long-term fellow in the Philip Wigge group to investigate the mechanisms by which light and temperature jointly regulate plant development. My work focussed on transcriptional and translational processes triggered by these two environmental signals and how these processes are translated into a developmental response.

Light and temperature cues strongly affect the accumulation and distribution of many signalling components, in particular phytohormones, at the cell, tissue and whole plant level. To accurately observe changes in these processes with high spatiotemporal resolution, sensitive and easy-to-detect biosensors are required. After completion of my research in the Wigge lab, I joined the team of Alexander Jones, where my work encompasses engineering of phytohormone biosensors as well as establishing a reporter system for subcellular protein localisation. Ultimately, I aim to deploy these systems in planta to observe changes in the respective biomolecule’s level and distribution upon perception of light and temperature signals.


Dr Balcerowicz is investigating how environmental signals trigger endogenous processes in plants. Diagram by Martin Balcerowicz.

Key publications


Chung, B.Y.W.*, Balcerowicz, M.*, Di Antonio, M., Jaeger, K.E., Geng, F., Franaszek, K., Marriot, P., Brierley, I., Firth, A.E., Wigge, P. (2020) An RNA thermoswitch controls daytime growth in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants in press (* shared first authorship)


Balcerowicz, M. (2020) PHYTOCHROME‐INTERACTING FACTORS at the interface of light and temperature signalling. Physiol. Plant. in press 

Brestovitsky, A., Ezer, D., Waidmann, S., Maslen, S.L., Balcerowicz, M., Cortijo, S., Charoensawan, V., Martinho, C., Rhodes, D., Jonak, C., Wigge, P.A. (2019). DEK influences the trade-off between growth and arrest via H2A.Z-nucleosomes in Arabidopsis. bioRxiv


Balcerowicz, M., Kerner, K., Schenkel, C., Hoecker, U. (2017). SPA Proteins Affect the Subcellular Localization of COP1 in the COP1/SPA Ubiquitin Ligase Complex during Photomorphogenesis. Plant Physiol. 174: 1314-1321.


Balcerowicz, M.# and Hoecker, U. (2014). Auxin – a novel regulator of stomatal development. Trends Plant Sci. 19: 747-749.  (corresponding authorship)


Balcerowicz, M., Ranjan, A., Rupprecht, L., Fiene, G., Hoecker, U. (2014). Auxin represses stomatal development in dark-grown seedlings via Aux/IAA proteins. Development 141: 3165-3176.


Putterill, J., Zhang, L., Yeoh, C.C., Balcerowicz, M., Jaudal, M., Varkonyi-Gasic, E. (2013) FT genes and regulation of flowering in the legume Medicago truncatulaFunct. Plant Biol. 40: 1199-1207.


Yeoh, C.C., Balcerowicz, M., Zhang, L., Jaudal, M., Brocard, L., Ratet, P., Putterill, J. (2013) Fine mapping links the FTa1 flowering time regulator to the dominant spring1 locus in Medicago. PLoS One 8: e53467.


Balcerowicz, M.*, Fittinghoff, K.*, Wirthmueller, L., Maier, A., Fackendahl, P., Fiene, G., Koncz, C., Hoecker, U. (2011) Light exposure of Arabidopsis seedlings causes rapid de-stabilization as well as selective post-translational inactivation of the repressor of photomorphogenesis SPA2. Plant J. 65: 712-723. (* shared first authorship)

*equal contribution 

Yeoh, C.C., Balcerowicz, M., Laurie, R., Macknight, R., Putterill, J. (2011) Developing a method for customized induction of flowering. BMC Biotechnol. 11: 11-36.

Research Associate
Dr Martin  Balcerowicz

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street