skip to primary navigationskip to content

Professor Elliot Meyerowitz

Professor Elliot Meyerowitz

Distinguished Associate

Laboratory's Inaugural Director (Jan 2011-Dec 2012)

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR
Office Phone: +44(0)1223 761107


Elliot Meyerowitz did his undergraduate work at Columbia University (A.B. in Biology, 1973), where he worked part-time in the laboratory of Cyrus Levinthal on combined microscopic and computational methods for tracing axons and dendritic trees in the nervous systems of fish. His graduate work was in the Department of Biology at Yale University (Ph.D. 1977), where he worked in the laboratory of Douglas Kankel on the interaction of eye and brain development in Drosophila, by use of genetic mosaics. From 1977 to 1979 he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of David Hogness in the Biochemistry Department at the Stanford University School of Medicine, developing and using methods for the molecular cloning of genes in the early days of gene cloning and genomics. Since 1980 he has been a faculty member in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology, where he served as Division Chair from 2000 to 2010, and where he is now George W. Beadle Professor of Biology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 2011 through 2012 he was, while on leave from Caltech, the Inaugural Director of the new Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University.

Among his honours are the Genetics Society of America Medal (1996); the International Prize for Biology, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (1997); the Lounsbery Award of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1999); the R.G. Harrison Prize of the International Society of Developmental Biologists (2005); the Balzan Prize (2006); the Dawson Prize in Genetics from the University of Dublin in 2013; and the Gruber Genetics Prize in 2018. He received honorary doctorates from the École Normale Supérieure in Lyons in 2007, and from Yale University in 2014. Professor Meyerowitz is past president of the Genetics Society of America, the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology, and the Society for Developmental Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (he completed a term as a member of the Academy Council in 2009), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a foreign member of the Royal Society, a foreign associate of the Académie des Sciences of France, and an Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization.

Research Interests

My laboratory has the goal of understanding the mechanisms of plant development, using both experimental and computational methods to test hypotheses. We concentrate on the shoot apical meristem and its derivative structures (primarily flowers), because this meristem is responsible for the development of the entire above-ground part of the mature plant, and utilizes a number of different pattern-forming processes that are as yet poorly understood. Our experimental organism is predominantly Arabidopsis thaliana, because of the ease with which genetic and molecular biological studies can be done using that model system. We also use other plant species in the laboratory when they offer an experimental advantage. Our method of study is what we have termed Computational Morphodynamics – the combination of real-time live imaging to capture the dynamics of plant development, couching our hypotheses as mathematical models (so as to be absolutely explicit about assumptions and parameters), and then testing them computationally and experimentally. We concentrate on three processes in plant development - the development of flowers, the growth of shoots, and the de novo generation of shoot meristems during regeneration.

Key Publications

Xu, Y., Prunet, N.E., Gan, E.-S., Wang, Y., Stewart, D., Wellmer, F., Huang, J., Jack, T.P., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Ito, T. (2018) SUPERMAN regulates floral whorl boundaries through control of auxin biosynthesis. EMBO J. 37, e97499. DOI:

Liu, T.L., Upadhyayula, S., Milkie, D.E., Singh, V., Wang, K., Swinburne, I, Mosaliganti, K., Collins, Z., Hiscock, T.W., Shea, J., Kohrman, A.Q., Medwig, T.N., Dambournet, D., Forster, R., Cunniff, B., Ruan, Y., Yashiro, H., Scholpp, S., Meyerowitz, E.M., Hockemeyer, D., Drubin, D.G., Martin, B.L., Matus, D.Q., Koyama, M., Megason, S., Kirchhausen, T. and Betzig, E.  (2018) Observing the cell in Its native state: Imaging subcellular dynamics in multicellular organisms. Science 360, 284. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq1392

Mirabet, V., Krupinski, P., Hamant, O., Meyerowitz, E.M., Jönsson, H., and Boudaoud, A. (2018) The self-organization of plant microtubules in three dimensions enables stable cortical localization and sensitivity to external cues. PLoS Comput Biol 14(2): e1006011. PMCID: PMC5834207

Melnyk, C.W., Gabel, A., Hardcastle, T.J., Robinson, S., Miyashima, S., Grosse, I., and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2018) Transcriptome dynamics at Arabidopsis graft junctions reveal an inter-tissue recognition mechanism that activates vascular regeneration. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 115, E2447-E2456. PMCID: PMC5878008

Landrein, B., Formosa-Jordon, P., Malivert, A., Schuster, C., Melnyk, C.W., Yang, W., Turnbull, C., Meyerowitz, E.M., Locke, J.C.W. and Jönsson, H (2018) Nitrate modulates stem cell dynamics in Arabidopsis shoot meristems through cytokinins. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 1382-1387.

Yang, W., Wightman, R. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2017) Cell cycle control by nuclear sequestration of CDC20 and Cdh1 mRNA in plant stem cells.  Molec. Cell 68, 1108-1119.

Caggiano. M.P., Yu, X., Bhatia, N., Larsson, A., Ram, H., Ohno, C., Sappl, P., Meyerowitz, E.M, Jönsson, H. and Heisler M.G. (2017) Cell type boundaries organize plant development.  eLife 2017;6:e27421 doi: 10.7554/eLife.27421. PMCID: PMC5617630

Prunet, N., Yang, W., Das, P., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Jack, T.P. (2017) SUPERMAN prevents stamen formation and promotes stem cell termination in the fourth whorl of the Arabidopsis flower. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 114, 7166-7171. PMCID: PMC5502645

Willis, L., Refahi, Y., Wightman, R., Landrein, B., Teles, J., Huang, K.C., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Jönsson, H. (2016) Cell size and growth regulation in the Arabidopsis thaliana apical stem cell niche. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 113, E8238-E8246, doi:10.1073/pnas.1616768113. PMCID: PMC5187701

Yang, W., Schuster, C., Beahan, C.T., Charoensawan, V., Peaucelle, A., Bacic, A., Doblin, M.S., Wightman, R. and Meyerowitz E.M. (2016) Regulation of meristem morphogenesis by cell wall synthases in Arabidopsis. Current Biology 26, 1404-1415. PMCID: PMC5024349

Tobin, C. J. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2016) Real-time lineage analysis to study cell division orientation in the Arabidopsis shoot meristem. Plant Cell Division Methods and Protocols, ed. M.C. Caillaud, Methods in Molecular Biology 1370, 147- 167. doi 10.1007/978-1-4939-2_12.

Gruel, J., Landrein, B., Tarr, P., Schuster, C., Refahi, Y., Sampathkumar, A., Hamant, O., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Jönsson, H. (2016) An epidermis-driven mechanism positions and scales stem cell niches in plants. Sci. Adv. 2, e1500989. PMCID: PMC4846443

Provart, N. J., Alonso, J., Assmann, S. M., Bergmann, D., Brady, S. M., Brkljacic, J., Browse, J., Chapple ,C., Colot, V., Cutler, S., Dangl, J., Ehrhardt, D., Friesner, J. D., Frommer, W. B., Grotewold, E., Meyerowitz, E.M., Nemhauser, J., Nordborg, M., Pikaard, C., Shanklin, J., Somerville, C., Stitt, M., Torii, K. U., Waese, J., Wagner, D. and McCourt, P. (2016) Tansley Review, 50 years of Arabidopsis research: highlights and future directions. New Phytologist 209, 921-944. DOI: 10.1111/nph.13687 

Luo, C.J., Wightman, R., Meyerowitz, E.M., and Smoukov, S. (2015) 3D fibre scaffold as an investigative tool for studying the morphogenesis of isolated plant cells. BMC Plant Biology 15, 211 doi:10.1186/s12870-015-0581-7 PMCID: PMC4550058

Melnyk, C.W., Schuster, C., Leyser, O., and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2015) A developmental framework for graft formation and vascular reconnection in Arabidopsis thaliana, Curr. Biol. 25, 1306-1318. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.03.032 NIHMSID 766222

Shapiro, B.E., Tobin, C., Mjolsness, E.M. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2015) Analysis of cell division patterns in the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112, 4815-4820. PMCID: PMC4403164

Kareem, A., Durgaprasad, K., Sugimoto, K., Du, Y., Pulianmackal, A.J., Trivedi, Z.B., Abhayadev, P.V., Pinon, V., Meyerowitz, E.M., Scheres. B., and Prasad, K. (2015) PLETHORA genes control regeneration by a two-step mechanism.  Curr. Biol. 25, 1017-1030. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.022

Nimchuk, Z.L., Zhou, Y., Tarr, P.T., Peterson, B.A., and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2015) Plant stem cell maintenance by transcriptional cross regulation of related receptor kinases. Development 142, 1043-1049. DOI: 10.1242/dev.119677. PMCID: PMC4360179

Melnyk, C.W. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2015) Plant Grafting. Curr. Biol. 25, R183-R188. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.029

Zhou, Y., Liu, X., Engstrom, E.M., Nimchuk, Z.L., Pruneda-Paz, J., Tarr, P.T., Yan, A., Kay, S.A., and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2015) Control of plant stem cell function by conserved interacting transcriptional regulators. Nature 517, 377-380. doi:10.1038/nature13853 PMCID: PMC4297503

Sampathkumar, A., Krupinski, P., Wightman, R., Milani, P., Berquand, A., Boudaoud, A., Hamant, O., Jönsson, H. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2014) Subcellular and supracellular mechanical stress prescribes cytoskeleton behavior in Arabidopsis cotyledon cells.  eLife 2014;3:e01967 DOI: PMCID: PMC3985187

Qi, J., Wang, Y., Yu, T., Cunha, A., Wu, B., Vernoux, T., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Jiao, Y. (2014) Auxin depletion from leaf primordia contributes to organ patterning.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 18769-18774.

Wang, Y., Wang, J., Shi, B., Yu, T. Qi. J., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Jiao, Y. (2014) The stem cell niche in leaf axils is established by auxin and cytokinin in Arabidopsis.  Plant Cell 26, 2055-2067. PMCID: PMC4079368

Sampathkumar, A., Yan, A., Krupinski, P. and  Meyerowitz, E.M. (2014) Physical forces regulate plant development and morphogenesis. Curr. Biol.24, R475-R483.  PMCID: PMC4049271

Sampathkumar, A., Krupinski, P., Wightman, R., Milani, P., Berquand, A., Boudaoud, A., Hamant, O., Jönsson, H. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2014) Subcellular and supracellular mechanical stress prescribes cytoskeleton behavior in Arabidopsis cotyledon cells.  eLife 2014;3:e01967 DOI: 

Wellmer, F; Bowman, J.L., Davies, B., Férrandiz, C., Fletcher, J.C., Franks, R.G., Graciet, E., Gregis, V., Ito, T., Jack, T.P., Jiao, Y., Kater, M.M., Ma, H., Meyerowitz, E.M., Prunet, N., and Riechmann, J.L. (2014) Flower development: Open questions and future directions.  Methods in Molecular Biology 1110, 103-124.

Shapiro, B.E., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Mjolsness, E.M. (2013) Using Cellzilla for Plant Growth Simulations. Frontiers in Plant Science doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00408

Li, W., Zhou, Y., Liu, X., Yu, P., Cohen, J. D., & Meyerowitz, E. M. (2013). LEAFY controls auxin response pathways in floral primordium formation. Science Signaling, 6(270), ra23. doi:10.1126/scisignal.2003937 PMID: 23572147

Zhang, X., Zhou, Y., Lian, D., Wu, S., Liu, R. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2013) Transcription repressor HANABA TARANU (HAN) controls flower development via integrating multiple hormone actions, floral organ specification and GATA3 family auto-regulation. Plant Cell 25, 83-101. PMID: 23335616

Sugimoto, K. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2013) Regeneration in Arabidopsis tissue culture. In Methods in Molecular Biology: Plant Organogenesis, ed. I. de Smet, Springer, pp. 265-276, ISBN 978-1-62703-220-9. PMID: 23299682

Bowman, J.L., Smyth, D.R. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2012) The ABC model of flower development: then and now. Development 139, 4095-4098. doi:10.1242/dev.083972 PMID: 23093420

Roeder, A.H.K., Cunha, A., Ohno, C.K. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2012) Cell cycle regulates cell type in the Arabidopsis sepal.  Development 139, 4416-4427. doi: 10.1242/dev.082925 PMID: 23095885

Segonzac, C., Nimchuk, Z.L., Beck, M., Tarr, P.T., Robatzek, S., Meyerowitz, E.M. and Zipfel, C. (2012) The shoot apical meristem regulatory peptide CLV3 does not activate innate immunity. Plant Cell 24, 3186-3192. doi: 10.1105/tpc.111.091264 PMID: 22923673

Roeder, A.H.K., Cunha, A., Burl, M.C. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2012) Computational image analysis glossary for biologists. Development 139, 3071-3080. doi: 10.1242/dev.076414 PMID: 22872081

Chickarmane, V.S., Gordon, S.P., Tarr, P.T., Heisler, M.G. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2012) Cytokinin signaling as a positional cue for patterning the apical-basal axis of the growing Arabidopsis shoot meristem. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 109, 4002-4007  doi: 10.1073/pnas.1200636109  PMCID: PMC3309735 PMID: 22345559

Cunha, A., Tarr, P.T., Roeder, A.H.K., Altinok, A., Mjolsness, E. and Meyerowitz, E.M. (2012) Computational analysis of live cell images of the Arabidopsis thaliana plant.  Methods Cell Biol. 110, 285-323. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-38803-9.00012-6 PMID: 22482954