Prof Enrico Coen

Project Leader
Cell and Developmental Biology

How do small groups of cells in microscopic buds turn themselves into the diverse flower and leaf shapes we see around us? To answer this question we need to know how genes and growth interact to create tissue shapes during development, and how this process varies to produce such a remarkable range of forms.

We use a highly integrative approach that combines molecular, genetic, imaging, population, ecological and computational approaches to address this problem, applying them to model systems such as Arabidopsis and Antirrhinum.

Through collaborations with Andrew Bangham, Veronica Grieneisen and Stan Marée, we have been able to arrive at mechanistic models for how complex tissue shapes may be generated through combinatorial interactions between genes, polarity and local growth properties. We also collaborate with population geneticist Nick Barton to understand the evolution of complex traits in natural populations and species of Antirrhinum.

Seeing the bigger picture: imaging technique widens our view on the inner worlds of plants and their guests

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New research on why plant tissues have a sense of direction

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Picasso, pottery and plants: Prof Enrico Coen's 2016 Croonian Lecture at the Royal Society

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Professor Enrico Coen awarded the BSDB 2016 Waddington Medal

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Selected Publications

Abley K., De Reuille P. B., Strutt D., Bangham A., Prusinkiewicz P., Maree A. F., Grieneisen V. A., Coen E. (2013)

An intracellular partitioning-based framework for tissue cell polarity in plants and animals.

Development 140 p2061-74

Publisher’s version: 10.1242/dev.062984

Sauret-Güeto S., Schiessl K., Bangham A., Sablowski R., Coen E. (2013)

JAGGED Controls Arabidopsis Petal Growth and Shape by Interacting with a Divergent Polarity Field.

PLoS Biology 11 pe1001550

Publisher’s version: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001550

Kuchen E. E., Fox S., de Reuille P. B., Kennaway R., Bensmihen S., Avondo J., Calder G. M., Southam P., Robinson S., Bangham A., Coen E. (2012)

Generation of leaf shape through early patterns of growth and tissue polarity.

Science 335 p1092-6

Publisher’s version: 10.1126/science.1214678

Robinson S., de Reuille P., Chan J., Bergmann D., Prusinkiewicz P., Coen E. S. (2011)

Generation of spatial patterns through cell polarity switching

Science 333 p1436-1440

Kim M., Cui M. L., Cubas P., Gillies A., Lee K., Chapman M. A., Abbott R. J., Coen E. (2008)

Regulatory genes control a key morphological and ecological trait transferred between species

Science 322 p1116-1119

Recent Publications

Lee K. J., Coen E. S., Calder G., Hindle C., Newman J., Robinson S., Avondo J. (2017)

Macro optical projection tomography for large scale 3D imaging of plant structures and gene activity

Journal of Experimental Botany 68 (3) p527-538

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erw452

Rebocho A. B., Southam P., Kennaway J. R., Bangham J. A., Coen E. (2017)

Generation of shape complexity through tissue conflict resolution.

eLife 6 ppages 1-45

Publisher’s version: 10.7554/eLife.20156

Eldridge T., Langowski L., Stacey N., Jantzen F., Moubayidin L., Sicard A., Southam P., Kennaway R., Lenhard M., Coen E. S., Ostergaard L. (2016)

Fruit shape diversity in the Brassicaceae is generated by varrying patterns of anisotropy

Development 143 p3394-3406

Publisher’s version: 10.1242/dev.135327

Coen E., Rebocho A. B. (2016)

Resolving Conflicts: Modeling Genetic Control of Plant Morphogenesis.

Developmental Cell 38 p579-83

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.devcel.2016.09.006

Coen E., Richardson A., Rebocho X. (2016)

Ectopic KNOX Expression Affects Plant Development by Altering Tissue Cell Polarity and Identity.

Plant Cell 28 p2079-2096

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.16.00284

View All

Enrico Coen

  • Catherine Mansfield Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Christopher Whitewoods Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Annabel Whibley Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Xana Verweij Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Paul Southam Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Annis Richardson Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Jake Newman Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Karen Lee Research Assistant
  • Richard Kennaway Senior Scientist
  • Samantha Fox Research Assistant
  • Mabon Elis Postgraduate Student
  • Lucy Copsey Research Assistant
  • Claire Bushell Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Des Bradley Research Assistant
  • Alice Dore Lab Attendant


Awarded the chance to exhibit research to the public at the 2016 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Waddington Medal, British Society for Developmental Biology, 2016

Croonian Medal, Royal Society, 2015

European Molecular Biology Organisation Young Investigator committee member, 2015-18

Elected President of the Genetics Society, 2012

Dawin Medal, 2004

Commander of the British Empire, 2003

Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Science, 2001

Fellow of the Royal Society, 1998

Linnean Gold Medal, 1997

European Molecular Biology Organisation Medal, 1996

Science for Art Prize, LVMH Moet Hennessy, France, 1996

Elected Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, 1991


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