Professor Robert Sablowski

Group Leader Building Robustness in Crops (BRiC)

Plants recurrently produce new organs and tissues at their apical meristems, whose activity establishes plant architecture and is key to crop productivity. The Sablowski lab works on the genetics and cell biology of meristem and early organ development in the model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana and in crop species (Brassica, tomato).

Growth of new organs and tissues requires active cell division and formation of specialised cell types. The Sablowski team focuses on how cell division and cell fate are coordinated with cell growth and cell size.  Understanding how these processes are coordinated may lead to novel strategies to modify the size of different cell types. One example with direct relevance to plant productivity are stomatal guard cells, whose size affects the efficiency of photosynthesis and the speed at which it adjusts to changes in environmental conditions. These parameters are key to crop water use efficiency in an increasingly unpredictable environment.

Another current interest is how the stem forms in the subapical region of the shoot meristem (called the rib meristem). They use a combination of quantitative imaging, genetics and mechanical modelling to understand how genes that function in the rib meristem influence stem growth.

Ultimately, their work aims to reveal fundamental principles of plant development to allow rational modification of plant organ growth and crop performance.

Selected Publications

See all of Professor Robert Sablowski's publications