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Professor Daniel Gibbs

Supervisor Details

Professor Daniel Gibbs

Contact Details

Professor Daniel Gibbs

School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham

Research in Dr Gibbs' lab utilises molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to investigate how plants use targeted protein degradation as a mechanism for sensing and responding to diverse developmental and environmental signals. The general aim of our work is to increase our understanding of how plants develop and respond to the environment, and to identify promising targets that can be manipulated in agriculturally important crops to improve growth, productivity and stress tolerance.

Proteins are major functional components of cells, and the regulation of their turnover is essential for controlling cellular responses and developmental outputs. In plants, targeted proteolysis has important roles in sensing and coordinating responses to internal developmental cues (e.g. phytohormones, such as auxin) and environmental signals (e.g. oxygen availability). The "N-end rule pathway" is an ancient and highly evolutionarily conserved proteolytic system that targets proteins for destruction based on the nature of their N-terminus (the beginning of the protein).

In previous work carried out in the lab of Prof. Michael HoldsworthLink opens in a new window (University of Nottingham), plant-specific ERFVII transcription factors were identified as the first physiological targets of the N-end rule pathway in plants (Gibbs et al. 2011 Nature). They were shown to mediate plant perception and response to low oxygen stress (hypoxia), a situation that frequently occurs during (Gibbs et al. 2011 Nature). This is the first example of a direct molecular mechanism for oxygen sensing in plants, and represents a major breakthrough for the future development of flood-tolerant crops, a key focus for food security. The same pathway was also shown to mediate perception and transduction of nitric oxide (NO), an important developmental signaling molecule in plants (Gibbs et al., 2014 Molecular Cell). This highlights the importance of N-end rule-mediated protein degradation in plants, and our ongoing studies suggest that the N-end rule plays a key role in a wide range of other developmental and physiological processes.

Current research is focused on characterizing novel ‘branches’ and protein substrates of the N-end rule pathway in Arabidopsis, with a particular focus on linking the control of protein stability to agriculturally important developmental processes and abiotic stress responses. This includes analysing the relationship between N-terminal protein acetylation and turnover of proteins, as well as characterising a role for the N-end rule in regulating the epigenome through contolling the stability of a key chromatin modifying complex. We are especially keen on linking the control of protein stability via this pathway to agriculturally important developmental processes and abiotic stress responses.

Project Details

Prof Gibbs is the supervisor on the below projects:

Prof Gibbs is also co-supervisor on projects with Dr Andrew Plackett and Dr Juliet Coates.

Previous Projects

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