Dr Christopher West

BA, MA, Cambridge; PhD Oct 1997, Manchester
Senior Lecturer
School of Biology

Background: 1998-2003: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Manchester; 2004 onwards: BBSRC David Phillips Fellow, Leeds

Contact: Manton 9.07, +44(0) 113 34 32915, email address for  

Research Interests

DNA double strand break repair in Arabidopsis

Work in the West lab is focussed on understanding how plants repair and respond to chromosomal breaks. These are breaks in both strands of the DNA duplex, and DNA double strand (DSB) repair and response mechanisms are crucial for cellular survival and the faithful transmission of genetic information. Unrepaired DSBs can inhibit gene expression, DNA replication and lead to mutagenesis and cell death. Understanding these pathways is fundamental for improvement of plant growth under environmental stress and the directed manipulation of the genome in biotechnology. DSB repair pathways are of particular importance in the seed stage of the plant lifecycle, as DNA damage accumulates in seeds due to low activity of cellular maintenance mechanisms in the dry quiescent state.

DNA damage arises from environmental stresses, such as UV-B and background radiation. In addition, the products of cellular metabolism, in particular (Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) leads to a constant background level of DNA damage which requires continuous repair. Organisms have evolved specific pathways to repair different forms of damage, which are essential for organism survival and minimise mutations in the genome. A highly toxic form of DNA damage is the DSB, which represents fragmentation of a chromosome.

In our lab we use multidisciplinary approaches, incorporating omics, molecular genetics, biochemical and cell biology approaches to study DNA repair processes in the model plant Arabidopsis and crop species including barley and Brassica A major focus is understanding the roles of DNA damage and response factors in seeds and their potential as predictive markers of seed quality and the genetic improvement of germination. In addition, we are using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to investigate mechanisms of recombination in plants.

For more details please visit our web page: http://chriswest2000.wixsite.com/chriswestlab


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY1234 - Practical Genetics

Modules taught

BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Skills
BIOL2301/03 - Intermediate Skills - BIOL
BIOL5152M - Topics in Plant Science
BIOL5251M - Plant Biotechnology
BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Research Project Proposal
BIOL5392M - Bioscience MSc Research Project
BLGY1234 - Practical Genetics
BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY1303/04/1005 - Level 1 Tutorials
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2163 - How Plants Work
BLGY3152 - Advanced Topics in Human Genetics
BLGY3173 - Plant Growth, Resources and Food Security
BLGY3345 - Biology Integrated Research Projects

Academic roles

School Director of Taught Student Education - School of Biology


Member of Masters Taught Student Education Committee
Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee

Centre membership: The Centre for Plant Sciences

Group Leader Dr Christopher West  (Senior Lecturer)

DNA double strand break repair in Arabidopsis 

Dr Wanda Waterworth  (Visiting Research Fellow)


Nurhayati Razak (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE
Rachel Taylor (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE

Webster RE, Waterworth WM, Stuppy W, West CE, Ennos R, Bray CM, Pritchard HW Biomechanical, biochemical, and morphological mechanisms of heat shock-mediated germination in Carica papaya seed Journal of Experimental Botany 67 6373-6384, 2016
View abstract

Waterworth WM, Bray CM, West CE The importance of safeguarding genome integrity in germination and seed longevity. J Exp Bot 66 3549-3558, 2015
View abstract

Park S-Y, Vaghchhipawala Z, Vasudevan B, Lee L-Y, Shen Y, Singer K, Waterworth WM, Zhang ZJ, West CE, Mysore KS, Gelvin SB Agrobacterium T-DNA integration into the plant genome can occur without the activity of key non-homologous end-joining proteins. Plant J 81 934-946, 2015
View abstract

Waterworth WM, Drury GE, Blundell-Hunter G, West CE Arabidopsis TAF1 is an MRE11-interacting protein required for resistance to genotoxic stress and viability of the male gametophyte Plant Journal 84 545-557, 2015
View abstract

Drury GE, Dowle AA, Ashford DA, Waterworth WM, Thomas J, West CE Dynamics of plant histone modifications in response to DNA damage. Biochem J 445 393-401, 2012
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Waterworth WM, Drury GE, Bray CM, West CE Repairing breaks in the plant genome: the importance of keeping it together. New Phytol 192 805-822, 2011
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Waterworth WM, Masnavi G, Bhardwaj RM, Jiang Q, Bray CM, West CE A plant DNA ligase is an important determinant of seed longevity PLANT J 63 848-860, 2010

Waterworth WM, Kozak J, Provost CM, Bray CM, Angelis KJ, West CE DNA ligase 1 deficient plants display severe growth defects and delayed repair of both DNA single and double strand breaks BMC PLANT BIOL 9, 2009

Dean PJ, Siwiec T, Waterworth WM, Schlogelhofer P, Armstrong SJ, West CE A novel ATM-dependent X-ray-inducible gene is essential for both plant meiosis and gametogenesis PLANT J 58 791-802, 2009

Kozak J, West CE, White C, da Costa-Nunes JA, Angelis KJ Rapid repair of DNA double strand breaks in Arabidopsis thaliana is dependent on proteins involved in chromosome structure maintenance DNA REPAIR 8 413-419, 2009

Bray CM, Sunderland PA, Waterworth WM, West CE DNA ligase--a means to an end joining. SEB Exp Biol Ser 59 203-217, 2008

Breuer C, Stacey NJ, West CE, Zhao Y, Chory J, Tsukaya H, Azumi Y, Maxwell A, Roberts K, Sugimoto-Shirasua K BIN4, a novel component of the plant DNA topoisomerase VI complex, is required for endoreduplication in Arabidopsis PLANT CELL 19 3655-3668, 2007

Waterworth WM, Altun C, Armstrong SJ, Roberts N, Dean PJ, Young K, Weil CF, Bray CM, West CE NBS1 is involved in DNA repair and plays a synergistic role with ATM in mediating meiotic homologous recombination in plants PLANT J 52 41-52, 2007

Sunderland PA, West CE, Waterworth WM, Bray CM An evolutionarily conserved translation initiation mechanism regulates nuclear or mitochondrial targeting of DNA ligase 1 in Arabidopsis thaliana PLANT J 47 356-367, 2006

da Costa-Nunes JA, Bhatt AM, O'Shea S, West CE, Bray CM, Grossniklaus U, Dickinson HG Characterization of the three Arabidopsis thaliana RAD21 cohesins reveals differential responses to ionizing radiation J EXP BOT 57 971-983, 2006

Bray CM, West CE DNA repair mechanisms in plants: crucial sensors and effectors for the maintenance of genome integrity New Phytologist 168 511-528, 2005
View abstract

Waterworth WM, Ashley MK, West CE, Sunderland PA, Bray CM A role for phosphorylation in the regulation of the barley scutellar peptide transporter HvPTR1 by amino acids J EXP BOT 56 1545-1552, 2005

West CE, Waterworth WM, Sunderland PA, Bray CM Arabidopsis DNA double-strand break repair pathways. Biochem Soc Trans 32 964-966, 2004
View abstract

Sunderland PA, West CE, Waterworth WM, Bray CM Choice of a start codon in a single transcript determines DNA ligase 1 isoform production and intracellular targeting in Arabidopsis thaliana BIOCHEM SOC T 32 614-616, 2004
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West CE, Bray CM Improving recombination events in plants Outlooks on Pest Management 15 122-124, 2004

Waterworth WM, Ashley MK, West CE, Bray CM Peptide transport in the developing barley grain, 2003

West CE, Waterworth WM, Story GW, Sunderland PA, Jiang Q, Bray CM Disruption of the Arabidopsis AtKu80 gene demonstrates an essential role for AtKu80 protein in efficient repair of DNA double-strand breaks in vivo The Plant Journal 31 517-528, 2002

Waterworth WM, Jiang Q, West CE, Nikaido M, Bray CM Characterization of Arabidopsis photolyase enzymes and analysis of their role in protection from ultraviolet-B radiation Journal of Experimental Botany 53 1005-1015, 2002

Waterworth WM, Ashley MK, West CE, Bray CM Peptide transport in the developing barley grain In The Biology of Seeds: Recent Research Advances, 2002

Waterworth WM, West CE, Bray CM The physiology and molecular biology of peptide transport in seeds Seed Science Research 4 275-284, 2001

West CE, Waterworth WM, Jiang Q, Bray CM Arabidopsis DNA ligase IV is induced by gamma-irradiation and interacts with an Arabidopsis homologue of the double strand break repair protein XRCC4. Plant J 24 67-78, 2000
View abstract

Waterworth WM, West CE, Bray CM The barley scutellar peptide transporter: biochemical characterization and localization to the plasma membrane. J Exp Bot 51 1201-1209, 2000
View abstract

Waterworth WM, West CE, Daws MI, Bray CM The barley scutellar peptide transporter: Relationship to germination and loss of seed viability, 2000

West CE, Waterworth WM, Stephens SM, Smith CP, Bray CM Cloning and functional characterisation of a peptide transporter expressed in the scutellum of barley grain during the early stages of germination. Plant J 15 221-229, 1998
View abstract

Waterworth WM, West CE, Hardy DJ, Bray CM A characterisation of the peptide transport system in barley seeds, 1995

Waterworth WM, West CE, Hardy DJ, Bray CM A characterisation of the peptide transport system in barley seeds. Biochem Soc Trans 23 558S-, 1995

Waterworth WM, Footitt S, Bray CM, Finch-Savage WE, West CE DNA damage checkpoint kinase ATM regulates germination and maintains genome stability in seeds. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113 9647-9652
View abstract