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Sainsbury Laboratory

Research Interests

The decision of whether or not an axillary meristem activates involves the integration of diverse environmental, physiological and developmental inputs. These are mediated by a network of interacting hormonal signals, including auxin, cytokinin and strigolactone, that generate a systemically-transmitted message, which is 'translated' at the axillary bud level. My research interests include using some of the Arabidopsis tools developed in the Leyser group to study shoot branching in SRC willow (Salix viminalis), with an aim to increase biomass yield. I am also interested in elucidating more of the role that MAX2 has in strigolactone response at the cellular level.

Buds sprouting from a willow stool.

SRC willow (Salix viminalis) stools sprouting in the greenhouse


Key Publications

Salmon J, Ward SP, Hanley SJ, Leyser O, Karp A. Functional screening of willow alleles in Arabidopsis combined with QTL mapping in willow (Salix) identifies SxMAX4 as a coppicing response gene. Plant Biotechnol J. 2014 May;12(4):480-91. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12154. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


Ward SP, Salmon J, Hanley SJ, Karp A, Leyser O. Using Arabidopsis to study shoot branching in biomass willow. Plant Physiol. 2013 Jun;162(2):800-11. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.218461. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Stirnberg P, Liu JP, Ward SP, Kendall SL, Leyser O. Mutation of the cytosolic ribosomal protein-encoding RPS10B gene affects shoot meristematic function in Arabidopsis. BMC Plant Biol. 2012 Sep 10;12:160. doi: 10.1186/1471-2229-12-160.

Stirnberg, Petra; Zhao, Shuqing; Williamson, Lisa; Ward, Sally; Leyser, Ottoline. FHY3 promotes shoot branching and stress tolerance in Arabidopsis in an AXR1-dependent manner. Plant Journal 2012 Apr 28.

S Ward, J Salmon, S Hanley, A Karp and O Leyser. Using Arabidopsis to study shoot branching in SRC Salix. In preparation.

Stirnberg P, Ward S, Leyser O. Auxin and strigolactones in shoot branching: intimately connected? Biochem Soc Trans. 2010 Apr;38(2):717-22.

Parry G, Ward S, Cernac A, Dharmasiri S, Estelle M. The Arabidopsis SUPPRESSOR OF AUXIN RESISTANCE proteins are nucleoporins with an important role in hormone signaling and development. Plant Cell. 2006 Jul;18(7):1590-603. (Joint first author)

Bainbridge K, Sorefan K, Ward S, Leyser O. Hormonally controlled expression of the Arabidopsis MAX4 shoot branching regulatory gene. Plant Journal. 2005 Nov;44(4):569-80.

Tatematsu K, Ward S, Leyser O, Kamiya Y, Nambara E. Identification of cis-elements that regulate gene expression during initiation of axillary bud outgrowth in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 2005 Jun;138(2):757-66.

Ward SP, Leyser O. Shoot branching. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2004 Feb;7(1):73-8. Review.

Sorefan K, Booker J, Haurogné K, Goussot M, Bainbridge K, Foo E, Chatfield S, Ward S, Beveridge C, Rameau C, Leyser O. MAX4 and RMS1 are orthologous dioxygenase-like genes that regulate shoot branching in Arabidopsis and pea. Genes Dev. 2003 Jun 15;17(12):1469-74.

Research Lab Manager
Dr Sally  Ward

Contact Details

Sainsbury Laboratory
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street
+44(0)1223 761106