Prof Lars Ostergaard

Programme Leader (Genes in the Environment)
Crop Genetics

Lars investigates the genetic and hormonal regulation of fruit development in the Brassicaceae family. The group is developing genetic and genomic resources for Brassicaceae 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 which also include the model plant Arabidopsis. The close evolutionary relationship between Brassica species and Arabidopsis is reflected in similar plant architecture and organ morphology.

One strand of Lars’ research takes a comparative approach to study fruit-shape formation in Arabidopsis and its close relative Capsella, which produces flat heart-shaped fruit. It is possible that fruit shape influences photosynthetic capacity and therefore seed yield, and Lars’ laboratory is testing this hypothesis using developmental genetics and computational modelling.

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 has already demonstrated the power of such a translational approach. Work in his group first demonstrated that the genetic control of seed dispersal is conserved across members of the Brassicaceae family. Subsequently, they used this knowledge to control this process in oilseed rape, which is known as pod shatter. Lars is focused on pursuing more of such translational opportunities.

  • 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

Temperature resilient crops now an “achievable dream” say authors of new study

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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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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

Simonini S., Mas P. J., Mas C. M. V. S., Ostergaard L., Hart D. J. (2018)

Auxin sensing is a property of an unstructured domain in the Auxin Response Factor ETTIN of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Scientific reports 8 p13563

Publisher’s version: 10.1038/s41598-018-31634-9

Simonini S., Stephenson P., Ostergaard L. (2018)

A molecular framework controlling style morphology inBrassicaceae.

Development (Cambridge, England)

Publisher’s version: 10.1242/dev.158105

Li X., Deb J., Kumar V., Ostergaard L. (2018)

Temperature Modulates Tissue-Specification Program to Control Fruit Dehiscence in Brassicaceae.

Molecular Plant

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.molp.2018.01.003

van der Knaap E., Ostergaard L. (2017)

Shaping a fruit: Developmental pathways that impact growth patterns.

Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 79 p27-36

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.10.028

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

View All

Lars Ostergaard

  • Saleha Bakht Research Assistant
  • Marie Bruser Postgraduate Student
  • 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, contact the John Innes Centre communications team 01603 450962,

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