The Dean lab focuses on how plants sense and remember winter.
The group started with three quite different questions:
- Why do some plants overwinter before flowering?
- How do plants remember cold exposure?
- How do flowering mechanisms adapt to different winters?
Their genetic and molecular experiments addressing these questions converged onto how one gene is regulated. This has led them into a detailed dissection of chromatin and antisense RNA regulation of the floral repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC).
The lab’s activities currently focus on:
- Quantitative variation in FLC expression – This influences whether a plant overwinters before flowering and is through an antisense-linked chromatin mechanism
- Epigenetic switching – Plants remember they have experienced winter in a process called vernalization. This is an epigenetic silencing of FLC expression through a cis-based, Polycomb switching mechanism
- Natural variation – Arabidopsis thaliana adaptation to different latitudes has involved noncoding polymorphisms within FLC that confer natural variation in flowering and vernalization response
Below are three selected reviews – all the primary papers are available via the links.
Berry S., Dean C. (2015)Environmental perception and epigenetic memory: mechanistic insight through FLC.Plant Journal (10.1111/tpj.12869)Publisher's version: 0960-7412
Whittaker C., Dean C. (2017)The FLC Locus: A Platform for Discoveries in Epigenetics and Adaptation.Annual review of cell and developmental biology (33)Publisher's version: 1081-0706
Wu Z., Fang X., Zhu D., Dean C. (2020)Autonomous pathway: FLOWERING LOCUS C repression through an antisense-mediated chromatin silencing pathwayPlant Physiology (182)
Postdoctoral Scientists interested in joining the lab are encouraged to send their CV to the Dean lab.