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Sainsbury Laboratory


I studied Biology at the University of Rome, La Sapienza (Italy). During my undergraduate studies (BSc. and MSc), I worked on the seed germination regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana. My interest in plant physiology continued during my PhD (University of Freiburg, Germany), where I studied the regulation of Arabidopsis seedling development under different light conditions. After my PhD, I have decided to expand my knowledge and learn a new scientific topic. I joined Dr Roberto De Michele (Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources, National Research Council of Italy (IBBR, CNR in Palermo, Italy) in engineering a fluorescent biosensor for detecting nitric oxide using E. coli and S. cerevisiae as a model system. This experience developed my interest in genetically encoded biosensors and their use in developmental research. Combining my expertise and interest, I joined Dr Alexander Jones at SLCU in Cambridge to work on GA patterning in Arabidopsis. 


Research Interests

Biosensor imaging of root tip measuring GA gradient, showing a substantial GA increase in the elongation interested in understanding how and why Gibberellin (GA) accumulation is modulated in space and time during development. To address these questions, I am using nlsGPS1 (nuclear-Gibberellins Perception Sensor 1), the first FRET biosensor for GA, which allows high-resolution GA measurements in vivo in combination with biochemical and genetic approaches to understand the downstream responses to specific accumulations of GA. I mainly focus my interest on Arabidopsis root, and my current project is about the differential cellular GA distribution and the correlation of cellular GA levels and root growth.

Image on right: Biosensor imaging of root tip measuring GA gradient, showing a substantial GA increase in the elongation zone.



Rizza A, Tang B, Stanley EC, Grossmann G, Owen MR, B and LR Jones AM (2021) Differential biosynthesis and cellular permeability explain longitudinal gibberellin gradients in growing roots. PNAS (accepted January 2021)

Lopez-Hernandez F, Tryfona T, Rizza A, Yu X, Harris M0, Webb A, Kotake T, and Dupree P (2020) Calcium binding by arabinogalactan polysaccharides is important for normal plant development. The Plant Cell 2020;32(10):3346-3369. doi: 10.1105/tpc.20.00027  

Rizza A and Jones AM (2019) The makings of a gradient: spatiotemporal distribution of gibberellins in plant development. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Volume 47, February 2019, Pages 9-15 2. 

Rizza A, Walia A, Tang B, Jones AM (2019) Visualizing Cellular Gibberellin Levels Using the nlsGPS1 Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) Biosensor. J Vis Exp. 2019 Jan 12;(143). doi: 10.3791/58739.

Biosensor imaging of dark grown hypocotyl showing a GA gradient with high GA in elongated cells.Rizza A, Walia A, Lanquar V, Frommer WB, Jones AM (2017). In vivo gibberellin gradients visualized in rapidly elongating tissues. Nature Plants 3, 803–813 (2017). 

Rizza ABoccaccini A, Lopez-Vidriero I, Costantino, P and Vittorioso P (2011) Inactivation of the ELIP1 and ELIP2 genes affects Arabidopsis seed germinationNew Phytologist, 190 896–905 

Gabriele S*, Rizza A*, Martone J, Circelli P, Costantino P, and Vittorioso P. (2010) The Dof protein DAG1 mediates PIL5 activity on seed germination by negatively regulating GA biosynthetic gene AtGA3ox1. Plant Journal, 61(2):312-23 (*equal contribution) 

Image on right: Biosensor imaging of dark grown hypocotyl showing a GA gradient with high GA in elongated cells.


Science Communications and Outreach 

Cambridge Global Food SecurityThe GFS Early Career Researcher Event. Interview in the session “After my PhD: what next? (30 Nov 2020)

Cambridge Global Food SecurityInterview series (25 June 2020)

Inside Cambridge: University of Cambridge video series providing insights to life at the University. Associated news story.


Visualizing Cellular Gibberellin Levels Using the nlsGPS1 Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) Biosensor (JoVE)

Gibberellin Perception Sensor 1 (GPS1) is the first Förster resonance energy transfer-based biosensor for measuring the cellular levels of gibberellin phytohormones with a high spatiotemporal resolution. This protocol reports on the method to visualize and quantify cellular gibberellin levels using the genetically encoded nlsGPS1 biosensor in Arabidopsis hypocotyls and root tips.

Research Associate
Dr Annalisa  Rizza

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
47 Bateman Street