Distinguished Lec

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BESE Distinguished Lecture Series - Professor George Coupland

Start Date: April 11, 2017
End Date: April 11, 2017

​​​TITLE: Control of seasonal flowering in annual and perennial plants
DATE: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

TIME: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Lecture Hall Level 0 · between Buildings 2 & 3

Reproduction is tightly controlled in all organisms. In plants, the induction of flowering is the first step in reproduction and is controlled by seasonal cues such as day length and winter temperatures. We use Arabidopsis thaliana to decipher regulatory networks controlling these responses and exploit relative species, particularly perennial Arabis alpina, to determine how these networks change during evolution to confer ecologically significant differences in phenotype. We have shown how circadian-clock regulation of transcription of specific regulatory genes and photoreceptor signalling combine to promote flowering in response to long summer days. This process activates expression in the leaf of a protein that moves systemically to the shoot meristem and reprogrammes transcription leading to flower development. More recently, we showed how a network of microRNAs and transcription factors act in the shoot apex to control the age at which the plant becomes sensitive to environmental cues. The activity of this network differs between annuals and perennials, effectively delaying flowering of perennials. The talk will describe our recent progress in understanding regulatory processes that control the transition to flowering and how these diverge during evolution.

George Coupland is Director of the Department of Plant Developmental Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, a position he has held since 2001. He earned his PhD from University of Edinburgh, and was postdoctoral fellow at University of Cologne. He was Research Group Leader at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, from 1989 to 1990, and served as a Research Group Leader at the John Innes Centre from 1990 to 2001. He has conducted influential work in Arabidopsis on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which plants detect day length and use this information to trigger flowering. His work is also focused on discovering how this process interacts with responses to other environmental signals such as temperature. More recently he has studied the control of flowering in perennial relatives of Arabidopsis and how annual and perennial species diverge during evolution. 

Areas of expertise: Plant development, environmental regulation of development, flowering time, Arabidopsis, transcriptional regulation, evolutionary genetics.
Editorial experience: Plant Cell, Senior Editor (2016-); Planta, Editorial Board (2010- ); Development, Editorial Board (1997-2013).