Prof Caroline Dean

Project Leader
Cell and Developmental Biology

Our research has focused on the timing of the transition to reproductive development in plants. The acceleration of flowering by prolonged cold is a classic epigenetic process called vernalization. The study of this and parallel genetic pathways has led us into the dissection of conserved chromatin silencing mechanisms involving non-coding RNAs.

Our recent work has focused on a mechanistic understanding of vernalization and on the pathways that determine a requirement for vernalization. These pathways converge on a gene that encodes a floral repressor called FLC.  We analyse how these pathways intersect during development, in different environmental conditions, and through microevolution. This takes us into the analysis of what regulates reproductive strategy in plants.  We use Arabidopsis as a reference to establish the regulatory hierarchy and then translate our findings into other species.

FLC regulation has become a paradigm for the dissection of how non-coding RNAs, particularly antisense transcripts, mediate chromatin regulation. It is also providing important insight into evolutionary mechanisms, as modulation of FLC regulation is an important determinant of Arabidopsis adaptation.

Professor Caroline Dean wins prestigious Women In Science Award

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BBSRC Excellence in Bioscience Award for Caroline Dean

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Flowering and frost – how plants erase memories of winter – what Lysenko didn't realise!

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How Plants Remember Winter, and Other Stories

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Recent Publications

Csorba T., Questa J. I., Sun Q., Dean C. (2014)

Antisense COOLAIR mediates the coordinated switching of chromatin states at FLC during vernalization.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (45) p16160-5

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1419030111

Crevillén P., Yang H., Cui X., Greeff C., Trick M., Qiu Q., Cao X., Dean C. (2014)

Epigenetic reprogramming that prevents transgenerational inheritance of the vernalized state.

Nature 515 (7528) p587-90

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/nature13722

Li L., Filiault F., Box B., Kerdaffrec K., Oosterhout O., Wilczek W., Schmitt S., McMullan M., Bergelson B., Nordborg N., Dean D. (2014)

Multiple FLC haplotypes defined by independent cis-regulatory variation underpin life history diversity in Arabidopsis thaliana

Genes and Development 28 (15) p1635-1640

Publisher’s version: 10.1101/gad.245993.114

Yang H., Howard M., Dean C. (2014)

Antagonistic Roles for H3K36me3 and H3K27me3 in the Cold-Induced Epigenetic Switch at Arabidopsis FLC

Current Biology 24 p1793-1797

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.06.047

Song J., Rutjens B., Dean C. (2014)

Detecting histone modifications in plants.

Methods Molecular Biology 1112 p165-75

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/978-1-62703-773-0_11

View All

Caroline Dean

  • Billy Aldridge Postgraduate Student
  • Shuqin Chen Lab Attendant
  • Dr Yusheng Zhao Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Danling Zhu Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Hongchun Yang Research Assistant
  • Dr Zhe Wu Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Huamei Wang Support Specialist
  • Zhen Tao Research Assistant
  • Stefanie Nunes Rosa Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Julia Questa Postdoctoral Training Fellow
  • Dr Peijin Li Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Susan Duncan Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Rebecca Bloomer Postdoctoral Scientist


FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award, 2015

Thomson Reuters Top 1% Highly Cited Researcher, 2014

BBSRC Anniversary Award for Excellence in Bioscience, 2014

Non-resident Faculty of the Salk Institute, 2012-18

Foreign Member US National Academy of Sciences, elected April 2008

German Leopoldina Academy, elected April 2008

Officer of the Order of the British Empire, 2004

Fellow of the Royal Society, elected 2004

Genetics Society Medal, 2002

Elected a European Molecular Biology Organisation Fellow, 1999


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