Prof Brendan Davies

BSc, London; PhD 1991, CNAA.
Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation, Professor of Plant Development
School of Biology

Contact: Miall 9.01, Miall 7.11, +44(0) 113 34 33123/33146, email address for  

You can read more about Prof Davies's interests here:

Boundary dispute - loss of a single gene, encoding a plant-specific transcription factor, renders an Antirrhinum plant incapable of producing discreet leaves and, instead, little green cups are produced. Study of this gene will lead to an understanding of how all plant lateral organs are formed.

Research Interests

Study of plant development using molecular genetics and genomics.

Our group studies plant development. We began by trying to understand flower development and still work in this area. Studying flower development and meristem function led us to the role of transcription factors, gene regulatory networks and the control of gene expression in developmental processes. This also led to an interest in other forms of gene regulation such as repression and mRNA stability. We welcome expressions of interest from prospective PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.

Individual projects are currently underway in the following broad areas:

  • Understanding flower development - the master regulators and their downstream targets.
  • The mechanism of transcriptional repression and its role in plant development and evolution.
  • Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, how it works, what it does and how we can use it.

Plant Science

Ecology and Evolution


Current Projects

  • BBSRC: A Family of Transcriptional Co-repressors Controlling Multiple Processes in Plants.
  • BBSRC: BloomNet - Flowering time
  • BBSRC: A New Conditional Gene Regulation System in Plants
  • EU: Marie Curie SYSFLO network; transcriptional control in flower development

Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Plant development using molecular genetics

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Genes controlling plant development

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY3252 - Plant Developmental Biology

Modules taught

BLGY1234 - Practical Genetics
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2225 - Sustainable Food Production
BLGY3252 - Plant Developmental Biology
BLGY3291 - Comparative Genomics
BLGY3345 - Biology Integrated Research Projects

Academic roles

Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation - Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation from 1st Feb 2016


Member of Graduate School Committee (Pro-Dean for Research & Innovation)

Centre membership: The Centre for Plant Sciences

Group Leader Prof Brendan Davies  (Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation, Professor of Plant Development)

Study of plant development using molecular genetics and genomics. 

Dr Jelena Kusakina  (Research Fellow)

Dr Sally Whiteman  (Enterprise Officer)


Alastair Plant (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Richa Yeshvekar (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE

Dolzblasz A, Nardmann J, Clerici E, Causier B, van der Graaff E, Chen J, Davies B, Werr W, Laux T Stem Cell Regulation by Arabidopsis WOX Genes Molecular Plant 9 1028-1039, 2016
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Lloyd JPB, Lang D, Zimmer AD, Causier B, Reski R, Davies B The loss of SMG1 causes defects in quality control pathways in Physcomitrella patens. Nucleic acids research, 2018
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Causier B, Li Z, De Smet R, Lloyd JPB, Van De Peer Y, Davies B Conservation of Nonsense-Mediated mRNA Decay Complex Components Throughout Eukaryotic Evolution Scientific Reports 7, 2017
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Airoldi CA, McKay M, Davies B MAF2 Is Regulated by Temperature-Dependent Splicing and Represses Flowering at Low Temperatures in Parallel with FLM. PloS one 10, 2015
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Pajoro A, Biewers S, Dougali E, Leal Valentim F, Mendes MA, Porri A, Coupland G, Van de Peer Y, van Dijk ADJ, Colombo L, Davies B, Angenent GC The (r)evolution of gene regulatory networks controlling Arabidopsis plant reproduction: a two-decade history. J Exp Bot 65 4731-4745, 2014
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Wellmer F, Bowman JL, Davies B, Ferrándiz C, Fletcher JC, Franks RG, Graciet E, Gregis V, Ito T, Jack TP, Jiao Y, Kater MM, Ma H, Meyerowitz EM, Prunet N, Riechmann JL Flower development: open questions and future directions. Methods Mol Biol 1110 103-124, 2014
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Causier B, Davies B Flower development in the asterid lineage Methods in Molecular Biology 1110 35-55, 2014
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Causier B, Davies B Flower development in the asterid lineage., 2014
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Lloyd JPB, Davies B SMG1 is an ancient nonsense-mediated mRNA decay effector PLANT JOURNAL 76 800-810, 2013

Rayson S, Ashworth M, de Torres Zabala M, Grant M, Davies B The salicylic acid dependent and independent effects of NMD in plants. Plant Signal Behav 7 1434-1437, 2012
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Airoldi CA, Davies B Gene duplication and the evolution of plant MADS-box transcription factors. J Genet Genomics 39 157-165, 2012
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Causier B, Lloyd J, Stevens L, Davies B TOPLESS co-repressor interactions and their evolutionary conservation in plants. Plant Signal Behav 7 325-328, 2012
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Rayson S, Arciga-Reyes L, Wootton L, De Torres Zabala M, Truman W, Graham N, Grant M, Davies B A role for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in plants: pathogen responses are induced in Arabidopsis thaliana NMD mutants. PLoS One 7 e31917-, 2012
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Causier B, Ashworth M, Guo W, Davies B The TOPLESS interactome: a framework for gene repression in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 158 423-438, 2012
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Kieffer M, Master V, Waites R, Davies B TCP14 and TCP15 affect internode length and leaf shape in Arabidopsis. Plant J 68 147-158, 2011
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Airoldi CA, Bergonzi S, Davies B Single amino acid change alters the ability to specify male or female organ identity P NATL ACAD SCI USA 107 18898-18902, 2010

Causier B, Castillo R, Xue YB, Schwarz-Sommer Z, Davies B Tracing the Evolution of the Floral Homeotic B- and C-Function Genes through Genome Synteny MOL BIOL EVOL 27 2651-2664, 2010

Bemer M, Heijmans K, Airoldi C, Davies B, Angenent GC An Atlas of Type I MADS Box Gene Expression during Female Gametophyte and Seed Development in Arabidopsis PLANT PHYSIOL 154 287-300, 2010

Li JH, Dudas B, Webster MA, Cook HE, Davies BH, Gilmartin PM Hose in Hose, an S locus-linked mutant of Primula vulgaris, is caused by an unstable mutation at the Globosa locus P NATL ACAD SCI USA 107 5664-5668, 2010

Li J, Dudas B, Webster MA, Cook HE, Davies BH, Gilmartin PM Hose in Hose, an S locus-linked mutant of Primula vulgaris, is caused by an unstable mutation at the Globosa locus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 5664-5668, 2010
View abstract

Davies B Flower Development - Forward SEMIN CELL DEV BIOL 21 72-72, 2010

Causier B, Schwarz-Sommer Z, Davies B Floral organ identity: 20 years of ABCs SEMIN CELL DEV BIOL 21 73-79, 2010

Causier B, Bradley D, Cook H, Davies B Conserved intragenic elements were critical for the evolution of the floral C-function PLANT J 58 41-52, 2009

Li J, Webster M, Dudas B, Cook H, Manfield I, Davies B, Gilmartin PM The S locus-linked Primula homeotic mutant sepaloid shows characteristics of a B-function mutant but does not result from mutation in a B-function gene PLANT J 56 1-12, 2008

Arciga-Reyes L, Wootton L, Kieffer M, Davies B UPF1 is required for nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and RNAi in Arabidopsis PLANT J 47 480-489, 2006

Davies B Floral meristem identity genes In The Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Flowering: Second Edition, 2006

Kieffer M, Stern Y, Cook H, Clerici E, Maulbetsch C, Laux T, Davies B Analysis of the transcription factor WUSCHEL and its functional homologue in Antirrhinum reveals a potential mechanism for their roles in meristem maintenance PLANT CELL 18 560-573, 2006

Davies B, Cartolano M, Schwarz-Sommer Z Flower development: The Antirrhinum perspective ADV BOT RES 44 279-321, 2006

Deeks MJ, Cvrckova F, Machesky LM, Mikitova V, Ketelaar T, Zarsky V, Davies B, Hussey PJ Arabidopsis group Ie formins localize to specific cell membrane domains, interact with actin-binding proteins and cause defects in cell expansion upon aberrant expression NEW PHYTOL 168 529-540, 2005

Causier B, Castillo R, Zhou J, Ingram R, Xue Y, Schwarz-Sommer Z, Davies B Evolution in action: following function in duplicated floral homeotic genes. Curr Biol 15 1508-1512, 2005
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Deeks MJ, Kaloritia D, Machesky LM, Malho R, Davies B, Hussey PJ Actin nucleators in plants COMP BIOCHEM PHYS A 141 S320-S321, 2005

de Folter S, Immink RGH, Kieffer M, Parenicova L, Henz SR, Weigel D, Busscher M, Kooiker M, Colombo L, Kater MM, Davies B, Angenent GC Comprehensive interaction map of the Arabidopsis MADS box transcription factors PLANT CELL 17 1424-1433, 2005

Deeks MJ, Kaloriti D, Davies B, Malho R, Hussey PJ Arabidopsis NAP1 is essential for Arp2/3-dependent trichome morphogenesis CURR BIOL 14 1410-1414, 2004

Weir I, Lu J, Cook H, Causier B, Schwarz-Sommer Z, Davies B CUPULIFORMIS establishes lateral organ boundaries in Antirrhinum. Development 131 915-922, 2004
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Kieffer M, davies B Polarity in floral development In Polarity in plants, 2004
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Schwarz-Sommer Z, Davies B, Hudson A An everlasting pioneer: the story of Antirrhinum research NAT REV GENET 4 657-666, 2003

Causier B, Cook H, Davies B An antirrhinum ternary complex factor specifically interacts with C-function and SEPALLATA-like MADS-box factors. Plant Mol Biol 52 1051-1062, 2003
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Parenicova L, de Folter S, Kieffer M, Horner DS, Favalli C, Busscher J, Cook HE, Ingram RM, Kater MM, Davies B, Angenent GC, Colombo L Molecular and phylogenetic analyses of the complete MADS-box transcription factor family in Arabidopsis: New openings to the MADS world PLANT CELL 15 1538-1551, 2003

Causier B, Davies B Analysing protein-protein interactions with the yeast two-hybrid system. Plant Mol Biol 50 855-870, 2002
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Deeks MJ, Hussey PJ, Davies B Formins: intermediates in signal-transduction cascades that affect cytoskeletal reorganization TRENDS PLANT SCI 7 492-498, 2002

Causier B, Kieffer M, Davies B Plant biology. MADS-box genes reach maturity. Science 296 275-276, 2002

Paz-Ares J, Valencia A, Costantino P, Vittorioso P, Davies B, Gilmartin P, Giraudat J, Parcy F, Reindl A, Sablowski R, Coupland G, Martin C, Angenent GC, Baumlein H, Mock HP, Carbonero P, Colombo L, Tonelli C, Engström P, Droege-Laser W, Gatz C, Kavanagh T, Kushnir S, Zabeau M, Laux T, Hordsworth M, Ruberti I, Ratcliff F, Smeekens S, Somssich I, Weisshaar B, Traas J REGIA an EU project on functional genomics of transcription factors from Arabidopsis thaliana Comparative and Functional Genomics 3 102-108, 2002
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Kieffer M, Davies B Developmental programmes in floral organ formation. Semin Cell Dev Biol 12 373-380, 2001
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Gutierrez-Cortines ME, Davies BH Beyond the ABC's: ternary complex formation in the control of floral organ identity. Trends in Plant Science 5 471-476, 2000

Davies BH, Sommer H, Schwartz-Sommer ZS Flower Development:Genetic Views and Molecular News In Development: Genetics, Epigenetics and Environment, 1999

Causier B, Weir I, Davies BH MADS-box factors in hermaphrodite flower development In Sex Determination in Plants, 1999

Davies BH, Motte P, Keck E, Saedler H, Sommer H, Schwartz-Sommer ZS Plena and Farinelli: Redundancy and regulatory interactions between two Antirrhinum MADS box factors controlling flower development. The EMBO Journal 18 4023-4034, 1999

West AG, Causer BE, Davies BH, Sharrocks AD DNA binding and dimerisation determinants of Antirrhinum majus MADS-box transcription factors Nucleic Acids Research 26 5277-5287, 1998
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Davies BH, DiRosa A, Eneva T, Saedler H, Sommer H Alteration of tobacco floral organ identity by expression of combinations of Antirrhinum MADS-box genes. The Plant Journal 10 663-677, 1996
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Davies BH, Egea Cortines M, Silva ED, Saedler H, Sommer H Multiple interactions amongst floral homeotic MADS box proteins The EMBO Journal 15 4330-4343, 1996
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Davies BH Two is company: the complex travel arrangements of floral homeotic factors BioEssays 18 863-866, 1996

Davies BH The L19 ribosomal protein gene: gene organisation, chromosomal mapping and novel promoter region. Genomics 25 372-380., 1995

Davies BH Control of floral organ identity by homoeotic MADS-box transcription factors. Cell Differentiation 20 (Plant promoters and transcription factors) Springer-Verlag 235-258, 1994

Davies BH The structure of the human intron-containing S8 ribosomal protein gene and determination of its chromosomal location at 1p32-34.1. Genomics 15 68-75., 1993

Davies BH The mapping of seven intron-containing ribosomal protein genes shows they are unlinked in the human genome. Genomics 13 201-207., 1992