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Sainsbury Laboratory


Edwige Moyroud

Research Group Leader

Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Bateman Street

Cambridge CB2 1LR

Office Phone01223 761163
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Research Interests

The Moyroud group studies the mechanisms that account for pattern formation in petals at the molecular, cellular, biophysical and ecological levels. The colourful patterns on the petal of flowering plants are key to attracting pollinators and as such participate directly in the reproductive success of a species. Because these patterns are often highly elaborate and combine differences in pigmentation, cell shape and ornamentation of the cuticle (a waxy layer that protects plant surfaces), their development is tightly regulated to generate neighbouring tissues with distinct properties. This complexity warrants a multi-scale approach to expand our limited understanding of how these developmental patterns are controlled and whether the mechanisms are common across the 350,000 flowering plant species.

A key question is how such clear boundaries are established within the petal epidermis. Bullseye patterns, where the centre of the flower contrasts clearly with its periphery, are excellent examples of such a phenomenon and are commonly encountered in flowering plants.

We are now investigating pattern formation in the petals of Venice mallow, a small hibiscus species that we can efficiently transform. The flowers of this emerging model system exhibit a bullseye pattern: the dark proximal region possesses flat, heavily striated cells that produce an iridescent cue for pollinators, while the cells in the white distal region are conical and smooth, providing grip for visiting insects. We have found that the overall effect is due to the development of adjacent regions with contrasting pigmentation, cell shape and cuticular patterns.

To understand how the bullseye pattern is built, our group will combine naïve approaches with targeted strategies using emerging technologies and state-of-the art in planta imaging. This project is highly interdisciplinary and relies on our strong collaborative environment.


  • Understand how boundaries are set within a tissue in a coordinate fashion to generate functional patterns.
  • Test the potential role of flavonoids as developmental regulators coordinating patterning mechanisms at multiple scales.
  • Understand how evolution tinkers with these mechanisms to generate pattern variations between species or populations.


Key Publications

Selected publications

Moyroud, E., Wenzel, T., Middleton, R., Rudall, P.J., Banks, H., Reed, A., Mellers, G., Killoran, P., Westwood, M.M., Steiner, U., et al. (2017). Disorder in convergent floral nanostructures enhances signalling to bees. Nature.

Giorio, C., Moyroud, E., Glover, B.J., Skelton, P.C., and Kalberer, M. (2015). Direct Surface Analysis Coupled to High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry Reveals Heterogeneous Composition of the Cuticle of Hibiscus trionum Petals. Anal. Chem. 87, 9900–9907. Available at:

Vignolini, S., Moyroud, E., Hingant, T., Banks, H., Rudall, P.J., Steiner, U., Glover, B.J. (2014) The flower of Hibiscus trionum is both visibly and measurably iridescent. New Phytol., 196 (4), 1038-1047.
Available at:

Antoniou Kourounioti, R.L., Band, L.R., Fozard, J.A., Hampstead, A., Lovrics, A., Moyroud, E., Vignolini, S., King, J.R., Jensen, O.E., and Glover, B.J. (2013). Buckling as an origin of ordered cuticular patterns in flower petals. J. R. Soc. Interface 10, 20120847. Available at:



Moyroud, E., and Glover, B.J. (2017). The Evolution of Diverse Floral Morphologies. Current Biology. 27, R941–R951.

Moyroud, E., and Glover, B.J. (2016). The physics of pollinator attraction. New Phytol.
Available at:

Glover, B.J., Airoldi, C.A., Brockington, S.F., Fernández-Mazuecos, M., Martínez-Pérez, C., Mellers, G., Moyroud, E., and Taylor, L. (2015). How Have Advances in Comparative Floral Development Influenced Our Understanding of Floral Evolution? Int. J. Plant Sci. 176, 307–323.
Available at:

Vignolini, S., Moyroud, E., Glover, B.J., and Steiner, U. (2013). Analysing photonic structures in plants. J. R. Soc. Interface 10, 20130394.
Available at:

 Funding provided by

BBSRC, Isaac Newton Trust, Wellcome Trust and Gatsby Charitable Foundation


Bullseye pattern in Hibiscus trionum: an anthocyanin-rich region with flat striated cells contrast with a white region with smooth conical cells.


Transgenic H. trionum expressing a fluorescent eYFP protein targeted to the plasma membrane. Top: H. trionum plantlet regenerating from callus. Middle: Confocal image of petal epidermis in young bud. Bottom: 3D reconstruction of epidermis cells in developing petal.

Moyroud Group Members


Summer Students

Hrushikesh Loya

Eleni Klidaras