Dr Levi Yant

Project Leader
Cell and Developmental Biology

Levi’s research explores the genes responsible for adaptation to extreme environments.

He uses sequencing techniques to determine the changes to genes, which have allowed plants to adapt when faced with intense selection pressures such as extreme soil conditions.

Levi is also investigating the evolution of genome stabilisation to enable the development of polyploidy in wild plant populations and he identifies conserved alleles essential to this process across the plant and animal kingdoms.  

  • Genetics of plant adaptation to extreme soil environments
  • Sequencing and candidate gene identification of key adaptation genes
  • Genome stabilisation during the development of polyploidy

For a more complete description of Levi's science, see the Dr Levi Yant lab website.

Levi is excited by recent advances in our ability to see clear signatures of selection in natural populations in response to intense selective pressures. Examples they are currently working on include adaptation to whole genome duplication and extreme edaphic conditions, such as lead, zinc, and serpentine soil tolerance.

The group are particularly interested in the repeatability of evolution in response to intense selection.  We are therefore concentrating on focused genome scans for selective sweeps in many independently genome-duplicated and also in stress tolerant lineages. For example, we are working on multiple independently derived auto- and allopolyploid Mimulus populations to test for within-species repeated evolution, as well as for between-species repeated evolution by looking in distantly related species, such as Chamerion (Fireweed). We are also broadly scanning separate cases of serpentine and lead-tolerant populations in the Brassicaceae. Thus far, we have seen striking cases of repeated evolution in response to serpentine challenge.

Results from these scans are providing some clear parallels to studies in other species, such as Arabidopsis Arenosa, but also rather surprising differences, providing fruitful inroads for detailed functional analyses of the consequences of genome evolution.

Their overall goal is to understand how the cell adapts to the sudden internal upheaval by investigating many independently-evolved natural solutions. Initial results have surprised them by indicating that even conserved meiotic processes are capable of nimble evolutionary shifts when required.   

Serpentine plants survive harsh soils thanks to borrowed genes

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John Innes Centre scientists awarded prestigious five year european research council starting grants

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Bomblies K, Higgins J, Yant L. Meiosis Evolves -Adaptation to external and internal environments. Tansley Review. New Phytologist. 2015; 208(306). Publisher's Version 

Yant L, Collani S, Puzey J, Levy C, Kramer EM. Molecular basis for three-dimensional elaboration of the Aquilegia petal spur. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2015;282(1803). Publisher's Version

Yant L. When two is a crowd: mitochondrial genome merger and its aftermath. New Phytologist. 2015;206(1). Publisher's Version


Sharma B, Yant L, Hodges SA, Kramer EM. Understanding the development and evolution of novel floral form in AquilegiaCurrent opinion in plant biology. 2014;17:22. Publisher's Version


Yant L, Hollister JD, Wright KM, Arnold BJ, Higgins JD, Franklin CFH, Bomblies K. Meiotic Adaptation to Genome Duplication in Arabidopsis arenosa. Current Biology. 2013;23(21). (An Editors’ Pick in Science and featured in a Dispatch in same issue of Current Biology) pdf at PMC

Posé D, Verhage L, Ott F, Yant L, Mathieu J, Angenent GC, Immink RGH, Schmid M. Temperature-dependent regulation of flowering by antagonistic FLM variants. Nature. 503, 414. (Featured in a Perspective in Science) Publisher's Version


Yant L. Genome-wide mapping of transcription factor binding reveals developmental process integration and a fresh look at evolutionary dynamics. American Journal of Botany. 2012. Publisher's version

Dinh TT, Girke T, Liu X, Yant L, Schmid M, Chen X. The floral homeotic protein APETALA2 recognizes and acts through an AT-rich sequence element. Development. 2012;139(11):1978. pdf atPMC


Posé D*, Yant L*, Schmid M. The end of innocence: flowering networks explode in complexity. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 15, 45. *equal contribution

Salomé PA, Bomblies K, Laitinen RAE, Yant L, Mott R, Weigel D. Genetic architecture of flowering-time variation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics. 2011;188(2):421.(June 2011 Cover) pdf at PMC

Moyroud E, Minguet EG, Ott F, Yant L, Posé D, Monniaux M, Blanchet S, Bastien O, Thévenon E, Weigel D. Prediction of regulatory interactions from genome sequences using a biophysical model for the Arabidopsis LEAFY transcription factor. The Plant Cell. 2011;23(4):1293. (April 2011 Cover) pdf at PMC

Salomé PA, Bomblies K, Fitz J, Laitinen RAE, Warthmann N, Yant L, Weigel D. The recombination landscape in Arabidopsis thaliana F2 populations. Heredity. 2011;108(4):447. pdf at PMC


Bomblies K, Yant L, Laitinen RA, Kim S-T, Hollister JD, Warthmann N, Fitz J, Weigel D. Local-scale patterns of genetic variability, outcrossing, and spatial structure in natural stands of Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS genetics. 2010;6(3):e1000890. pdf at PMC

Yant L, Mathieu J, Dinh TT, Ott F, Lanz C, Wollmann H, Chen X, Schmid M. Orchestration of the floral transition and floral development in Arabidopsis by the bifunctional transcription factor APETALA2. The Plant Cell. 2010;22(7):2156.pdf at PMC


Yant L, Mathieu J, Schmid M. Just say no: floral repressors help Arabidopsis bide the time. Current opinion in plant biology. 2009;12(5):580.

Mathieu J, Yant LJ, Mürdter F, Küttner F, Schmid M. Repression of flowering by the miR172 target SMZ. PLoS biology. 2009;7(7):e1000148. pdf at PMC


Maness NJ, Yant LJ, Chung C, Loffredo JT, Friedrich TC, Piaskowski SM, Furlott J, May GE, Soma T, León EJ. Comprehensive immunological evaluation reveals surprisingly few differences between elite controller and progressor Mamu-B* 17-positive Simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus macaques. Journal of virology. 2008;82(11):5245.


Wojcechowskyj JA, Yant LJ, Wiseman RW, O'Connor SL, O'Connor DH. Control of simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 is not predicted by inheritance of Mamu-B* 17-containing haplotypes. Journal of virology. 2007;81(1):406. 

Friedrich TC, Valentine LE, Yant LJ, Rakasz EG, Piaskowski SM, Furlott JR, Weisgrau KL, Burwitz B, May GE, León EJ. Subdominant CD8+ T-cell responses are involved in durable control of AIDS virus replication. Journal of virology. 2007;81(7):3465.


Wilson NA, Reed J, Napoe GS, Piaskowski S, Szymanski A, Furlott J, Gonzalez EJ, Yant LJ, Maness NJ, May GE. Vaccine-induced cellular immune responses reduce plasma viral concentrations after repeated low-dose challenge with pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239. Journal of virology. 2006;80(12):5875.

Yant LJ, Friedrich TC, Johnson RC, May GE, Maness NJ, Enz AM, Lifson JD, O'Connor DH, Carrington M, Watkins DI. The high-frequency major histocompatibility complex class I allele Mamu-B* 17 is associated with control of simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 replication. Journal of virology . 2006;80(10):5074. 


Loffredo JT, Rakasz EG, Giraldo JP, Spencer SP, Grafton KK, Martin SR, Napoé G, Yant LJ, Wilson NA, Watkins DI. Tat28-35SL8-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes are more effective than Gag181-189CM9-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes at suppressing simian immunodeficiency virus replication in a functional in vitro assay. Journal of virology. 2005;79(23):14986.


Friedrich TC, McDermott AB, Reynolds MR, Piaskowski S, Fuenger S, de Souza IP, Rudersdorf R, Cullen C, Yant LJ, Vojnov L. Consequences of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte escape: common escape mutations in simian immunodeficiency virus are poorly recognized in naive hosts. Journal of virology. 2004;78(18):10064.

O'Connor DH, McDermott AB, Krebs KC, Dodds EJ, Miller JE, Gonzalez EJ, Jacoby TJ, Yant L, Piontkivska H, Pantophlet R. A dominant role for CD8+-T-lymphocyte selection in simian immunodeficiency virus sequence variation. Journal of virology. 2004;78(24):14012.

Friedrich TC, Frye CA, Yant LJ, O'Connor DH, Kriewaldt NA, Benson M, Vojnov L, Dodds EJ, Cullen C, Rudersdorf R. Extraepitopic compensatory substitutions partially restore fitness to simian immunodeficiency virus variants that escape from an immunodominant cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte response. Journal of virology. 2004;78(5):2581.

McDermott AB, Mitchen J, Piaskowski S, De Souza I, Yant LJ, Stephany J, Furlott J, Watkins DI. Repeated low-dose mucosal simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239 challenge results in the same viral and immunological kinetics as high-dose challenge: a model for the evaluation of vaccine efficacy in nonhuman primates. Journal of virology. 2004;78(6):3140.

Friedrich TC, Dodds EJ, Yant LJ, Vojnov L, Rudersdorf R, Cullen C, Evans DT, Desrosiers RC, Mothé BR, Sidney J. Reversion of CTL escape–variant immunodeficiency viruses in vivo. Nature medicine. 2004;10(3):275.


Yant LJ, Ran Q, Rao L, Van Remmen H, Shibatani T, Belter JG, Motta L, Richardson A, Prolla TA. The selenoprotein GPX4 is essential for mouse development and protects from radiation and oxidative damage insults. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2003;34(4):496.

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