Professor Hugh Dickinson

Research Interests

The genetics and epigenetic programming of reproductive cell lineages


The epigenetics of plant reproductive cell lineages.

We aim to understand how small RNAs, histone modifications and methylation pathways set up the chromatin ‘landscape’ of the Arabidopsis reproductive cell lineage, and the impact of this landscape on the outcome of meiosis and gametophytic cell specification.  This research, carried out in collaboration with Xiaoqi Feng (John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK), is focused principally on the male reproductive cell lineage in the young anther, but work in collaboration with Lucia Colombo (Milan, Italy) is underway to investigate cell fate determination and meiotic outcome in the developing ovule.

The regulation of pollen development by small RNAs

We are also interested in the role of small RNAs in regulating development of the male gametophyte of Arabidopsis, from the formation of the microspore to the growth of the pollen tube within the female pistil. We have demonstrated that while there are functional commonalities in small RNA behaviour between the sporophyte and gametophyte, a number of microRNAs operate in an unusual fashion to suppress gene activity. Other populations of small RNAs populations have been found to play important and unexpected parts in regulating the final stages of pollen maturity.

 For papers since 2010 see 'Contact Details'.
  • Balance between maternal and paternal alleles sets the timing of resource accumulation in the maize endosperm.

  • MicroRNA and tasiRNA diversity in mature pollen of Arabidopsis thaliana.

  • Bridging the generation gap: flowering plant gametophytes and animal germlines reveal unexpected similarities.

  • Genetic features of a pollen-part mutation suggest an inhibitory role for the Antirrhinum pollen self-incompatibility determinant

  • Small RNA pathways are present and functional in the angiosperm male gametophyte.

  • Arabidopsis kinesins HINKEL and TETRASPORE act redundantly to control cell plate expansion during cytokinesis in the male gametophyte

  • When genomes collide: aberrant seed development following maize interploidy crosses.

  • Germlines: Argonautes go full cycle.

Contact Details
T: +44 (0) 1865 275800
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