Prof Lars Ostergaard

Programme Leader (Genes in the Environment)
Crop Genetics

Lars investigates the genetic and hormonal control over fruit shape development in the Brassicaceae.

Lars’ research uses Arabidopsis and its close relative Capsella, which produces flat heart-shaped fruit, with genomics technologies, mutant populations, optical projection tomography and modelling to understand the mechanisms which controls fruit shape.

Lars is interested in how fruit shape influences photosynthetic capacity and subsequently enhances seed yield, and how this knowledge can be transferred into crop species. 

  • Genetic regulation of fruit growth in Brassicas
  • The control of fruit shape and its effect on seed yield
  • Hormone perception in plants and the effect on organ development


The laboratory works primarily on genetic and hormonal regulation of fruit development in the Brassicaceae family (including Arabidopsis, oilseed rape and Capsella). The group is developing genetic resources for Brassica research and is using both molecular genetics and functional genomics to study fruit growth.

Members of the Brassica genus include important crop plants such as oilseed rape (Brassica napus). They belong to the Brassicaceae family such as the model plant Arabidopsis. The close evolutionary relationship between Brassica species and Arabidopsis is reflected in similar plant architecture and organ morphology. The similarities in for example fruit development suggest that the underlying patterning mechanism is conserved. 

In addition to the academic satisfaction of understanding biological processes, the knowledge acquired during studies of fruit development among Brassicaceae provides an enormous potential for knowledge transfer to improve crop performance.

Lars is focused on pursuing such translational opportunities and hence developing tools for crop improvement.

BBSRC BRAVO: optimising the performance of Brassica crops

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John Innes Centre scientists use CRISPR technology to edit crop genes - subsequent generations contain no transgenes

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Crop breeding - is it all in the genes?

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New research offers clue for 'the abominable mystery.' Auxin causes radial patterning in plant reproductive organs.

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Selected Publications

Girin T., Sorefan K., Ostergaard L. (2009)

Meristematic sculpting in fruit development

Journal of Experimental Botany 60 p1493-1502

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/jxb/erp031

Recent Publications

Deb J., Bland H., Ostergaard L. (2017)

Developmental cartography: coordination via hormonal and genetic interactions during gynoecium formation

Current Opinion in Plant Biology 41 p54-60

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.pbi.2017.09.004

Simonini S., Bencivenga S., Trick M., Østergaard L. (2017)

Auxin-Induced Modulation of ETTIN Activity Orchestrates Gene Expression in Arabidopsis.

Plant Cell 29 p1864-1882

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.17.00389

Moubayidin L., Østergaard L. (2017)

Gynoecium formation: an intimate and complicated relationship.

Current opinion in genetics & development 45 p15-21

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.gde.2017.02.005

Simonini S., Deb J., Moubayidin L., Stephenson P., Valluru M., Freire-Rios A., Sorefan K., Weijers D., Friml J., Ostergaard L. (2016)

A noncanonical auxin-sensing mechanism is required for organ morphogenesis in Arabidopsis

Genes & Development 30 p2286-2296

Publisher’s version: 10.1101/gad.285361.116

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

View All

Lars Ostergaard

  • Saleha Bakht Research Assistant
  • Marie Bruser Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Lukasz Langowski Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Yang Dong Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Xinran Li Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Wendy Forsdick Departmental Administrator
  • Dr Laila Moubayidin Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Nicola Stacey Research Assistant
  • Pauline Stephenson Research Assistant
  • Dr Natalie Wager Project Manager
  • Dr Rachel Wells Senior Scientist


For media enquiries, please contact the JIC communications team 01603 450962,

Twitter account:  @larsostergaard

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