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Professor Michael Holdsworth, research group web site:




The University of Nottingham web page of Professor Michael Holdsworth is here.
Keywords: N-degron pathwaysThe N-end rule pathway of ubiquitin-mediated targeted proteolysisprotein degradationproteostasis, oxygenhypoxia, nitric oxide (NO)plant genetics

My research work in recent years has focused on discovering the role that N-degron pathways (formally known as the N-end rule pathway of ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis) play in regulating plant growth and development and response to the environment. This has included our discoveries that the Cys branch of the PRT6 N-degron pathway acts as the molecular mechanism for oxygen sensing in flowering plants (Nature 2011), that it acts as a key nitric oxide sensing mechanism in plants (Molecular Cell, 2014), controls response to multiple abiotic stresses (Current Biology 2017) biotic stresses (New Phytologist 2018), photomorphogenesis (Current Biology 2015), influences the stability of key regulatory proteins (Nature Communications 2018), and that manipulation of the pathway leads to water-logging tolerant barley (Plant Biotechnology Journal 2016).


Current areas of interest include:

  • Characterisation of the plant N-degron pathways.
  • Understanding the role of targeted proteolysis in sensing plant-environment interactions.
  • Gasotransmitters and oxygen sensing.
  • Providing molecular resources and conceptual frameworks that plant breeders and growers can use.

  • Research papers highlighting these areas:
     Contact us:

    Division of Plant & Crop Sciences
    University of Nottingham
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Loughborough Leics
    LE12 5RD, UK

    Detailed instructions for reaching the campus are available.



    The role of N-degron pathways of targeted proteolysis in the control of plant growth and development.
    Gibbs et al. Nature Communications (2018): Histone modifier VRN2 is an oxygen sensor.
    Vicente
    et al.Current Biology (2017): Discovery of the general role of the N-end rule pathway in sensing abiotic stresses.
    Gibbs
    et al. Molecular Cell (2014): Discovery of a general mechanism of nitric oxide sensing in plants.
    Gibbs et al. Nature (2011): Discovery of the mechanism of oxygen sensing in plants.



    Systems approaches to understanding the control of seed germination and seedling establishment.
    Sanchez-Montesino et al. Molecular Plant (2019) Defining the role of the endosperm in seed germination.
    Bassel
    et al. PNAS (USA) (2014) 4D modelling of a germinating Arabidopsis embryo.
    Bassel
    et al. PNAS (USA) (2011) Genome wide network analysis of seed dormancy and germination.


    Transfer of molecular genetic information from studies in model species, to address important agricultural problems associated with plant developmental biology and response to abiotic and biotic stress.
    Vicente
    et al. New Phytologist (2018) Enhancing plant immunity.
    Mendiondo
    et al. Plant Biotech. J. (2016) Making barley water-logging tolerant.
    Mendiondo
    et al. J. Ex. Bot. (2014) The function of COMATOSE in barley.



    Work in the laboratory is funded by:

    Community Resources

    The Virtual Seed Web Resource vseed.nottingham.ac.uk:
    This online resource provides queryable interfaces for Gene Networks associated with seed development, dormancy and germination. Users can zoom into networks, search and highlight genes of interest and download images of network representations.

    TAGGIT analysis of seed transcriptome datasets: (original reference: Carrera et al. Plant Physiology 2007): TAGGIT uses a seed germination/dormancy ontology to annotate 'omics datasets, thus allowing more biologically informed analysis. A guide and most up-to-date version (although not updated since 2009, you can also use your own gene lists) of the TAGGIT workflow.