Dr Laura Dixon

e-mail: l.dixon2@leeds.ac.uk

How plants respond to changing temperatures

Plants continuously respond to the environment. The Dixon group focuses on understanding the role of temperature signalling in controlling development and floral regulation in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) and how this regulation impacts on the final yield potential of this essential crop.

Current research

Understanding vernalization in the field

The response to over-wintering (vernalization) is important for wheat development and agriculture. Through its utilization, by chance and design, agriculture has developed high yielding winter varieties and fast-growing spring varieties which have been essential in establishing wheat as a global crop. We know a number of genes in the vernalization pathway yet we do not fully understand how they interact or how the response proceeds in the field at a molecular level. We are combining genetics, molecular and developmental biology to identify and understand the processes controlling cereal vernalization in the field.

Regulating the rate of apex transition in response to changing temperatures

An important component in determining the yield potential of wheat occurs during the floral apex transition. Temperature is an important signal in regulating this transition and we focus our research in this area to identify genes which control the rate of this transition and how they can be applied to wheat breeding to make this temperature sensitive developmental stage more temperature robust.

Developing the temperature signalling network 

To understand temperature signalling we need to know how each of the identified molecular components interact. This will enable the identification of signalling hubs and therefore the identification of natural diversity within these genes which can be rapidly applied to crop improvement programmes.  This research combines molecular biology with population screening and field trials to test the final selected alleles.

Current projects

UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship: Understanding adaptation to increase temperature robustness in wheat

DTP BBSRC studentship: Dissecting cereal vernalization



Examining plants