Professor, Vice-Principal, Research, UTSc
Cell & Systems Biology
MA, Oxford; PhD, Guelph
Lab Phone: 416-978-3543
Lab: ESC 3058
Genetics, Genomics & Molecular Evolution
Study organisms: Model organisms Plants
Despite the incredible diversity in plant forms, the molecular mechanisms that control plant architecture are highly conserved across diverse genera. It is thought that the timing and localization of these mechanisms, in response to environmental and developmental cues, determine the overall structure of the plant body. My research team tests hypotheses aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms that control plant architecture. Much of my groups work has focused on the regulation of aspects of plant growth and development that are critical in architectural design. This work has largely centred on an exploration of the molecular mechanisms that underpin the timing and localization of lignin biosynthesis. Lignins are complex three-dimensional polymers that reinforce specific plant cell walls and thereby impart strength that is important in supporting the plant body against gravity. The control of the timing and localization of lignin biosynthesis is important in establishing the architectural design of the plant body. My group focuses on the role of members of the MYB family of transcription factors in controlling the timing and localization lignin biosynthesis. As a complement to this work, my team has also been characterising mutant plants that accumulate lignins in tissues where they would not normally be found, in order to understand the mechanisms controlling the localisation of this important building material. Other work in my lab is aimed at understanding how members of the MYB family of transcription factors affect plant architecture beyond their role in the control of lignin biosynthesis.