Dr Peter Etchells
I have a long-standing interest in plant developmental biology, which I developed while studying at the University of Edinburgh, and subsequently as a researcher at the University of Oxford, the John Innes Centre and at the University of Manchester.
My current research focuses on understanding how plant vascular tissue is formed. In vascular tissue, cell division and differentiation occurs in a highly ordered manner. These high levels of organization make plant vasculature an ideal model for studying mechanisms that control cell division and differentiation. The rates of cell division and differentiation are influenced by a range of developmental cues. My work aims to identify these cues and determine how they interact during development.
In addition to fundamental scientific questions surrounding the control of cell division and differentiation, understanding vascular tissue is of interest for crop improvement. Lodging due to stem breakage remains a problem in many crops. The vascular tissue, particularly the xylem, contains cells with large woody secondary cell walls that provide much of the plant stems mechanical strength, so modifying the developmental processes that lead to vascular specification has the potential to significantly improve yield.
Woody cell walls in the xylem are also rich in sugar polymers and constitute the majority of plant biomass. Ethanol derived from plant cell walls, known as cellulosic ethanol - so called second generation biofuels - gives a very favourable ratio of energy in to energy out with significant reductions in CO2 emissions. As vascular meristems are responsible for generating most of the plants biomass, an understanding of vascular development will provide markers for breeding of bioenergy crops, or enable modulation of vascular developmental pathways, using transgenic means to provide increased cellulosic bioethanol feedstock.
Department of Biosciences
Chapter in book
- Etchells, J. Peter & Turner, Simon R. (2009). Lateral Meristems. In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Wiley.
- de Lucas, Miguel & Etchells, J. Peter (2017). Xylem. Methods in Molecular Biology. Humana Press.
- Wang, Ning, Bagdassarian, Kristine S., Doherty, Rebecca E., Kroon, Johannes T., Connor, Katherine A., Wang, Xiao Y., Wang, Wei, Jermyn, Ian H., Turner, Simon R. & Etchells, J. Peter (2019). Organ-specific genetic interactions between paralogues of the PXY and ER receptor kinases enforce radial patterning in Arabidopsis vascular tissue. Development 146(10): dev.177105.
- Campbell, Liam, Etchells, J. Peter, Cooper, Matthew, Kumar, Manoj & Turner, Simon R. (2018). An essential role for Abscisic acid in the regulation of xylem fibre differentiation. Development 145: dev.161992.
- Turco, G.M., Kajala, K., Kunde-Ramamoorthy, G., Ngan, C-Y., Olson, A., Deshphande, S., Tolkunov, D., Waring, B., Stelpflug, S., Klein, P., Schmutz, J., Kaeppler, S., Ware, D., Wei, C-L., Etchells, J.P. & Brady, S.M. (2017). DNA methylation and gene expression regulation associated with vascularization in Sorghum bicolor. New Phytologist 214(3): 1213-1229.
- Guo, Xiaoli, Wang, Jianying, Gardner, Michael, Fukuda, Hiroo, Kondo, Yuki, Etchells, J. Peter, Wang, Xiaohong & Goellner Mitchum, Melissa (2017). Identification of cyst nematode B-type CLE peptides and modulation of the vascular stem cell pathway for feeding cell formation. PLoS Pathogens 13(2): e1006142.
- Etchells, J. Peter, Mishra, Laxmi S., Kumar, Manoj, Campbell, Liam & Turner, Simon R. (2015). Wood Formation in Trees Is Increased by Manipulating PXY-Regulated Cell Division. Current Biology 25(8): 1050-1055.
- Etchells, J. P., Provost, C. M., Mishra, L. & Turner, S. R. (2013). WOX4 and WOX14 act downstream of the PXY receptor kinase to regulate plant vascular proliferation independently of any role in vascular organisation. Development 140(10): 2224-2234
- Etchells, J. P., Moore, L., Jiang, W. Z., Prescott, H., Capper, R., Saunders, N., Bhatt, A. M. & Dickinson, H. G. (2012). A role for BELLRINGER in cell wall development is supported by loss-of-function phenotypes. BMC Plant Biology 12: 212.
- Etchells, J. P., Provost, C. M. & Turner, S. T. (2012). Plant vascular cell division is maintained by an interaction between PXY and ethylene signalling. PLoS Genetics 8(11): e1002997.
- Etchells, J. P. & Turner, S. T. (2010). The PXY-CLE41 receptor ligand pair defines a multifunctional pathway that controls the rate and orientation of vascular cell division. Development 137(5): 767-774.
- Atanassov, I. I., Atanassov, I. I., Etchells, J. P. & Turner, S. T. (2009). A simple, flexible and efficient PCR-fusion/Gateway cloning procedure for gene fusion, site-directed mutagenesis, short sequence insertion and domain deletions and swaps. Plant Methods
- Pinon, V., Etchells, J. P., Rossignol, P., Collier, S. A., Arroyo, J. M., Martienssen, R. A. & Byrne, M. E. (2008). Three PIGGYBACK genes that specifically influence leaf patterning encode ribosomal proteins. Development 135(7): 1315-1324.
- Bhatt, A. M., Etchells, J. P., Canales, C., Lagodienko, A. & Dickinson, H. (2004). VAAMANA – A Bel 1 like Homeodomain Protein, interacts with KNOX proteins BP and STM and Regulates Inflorescence Stem Growth in Arabidopsis. Gene 103-111.
- Ramachandran, P., Carlsbecker, A. & Etchells, J. P. (2017). Class III HD-ZIPs govern vascular cell fate: an HD view on patterning and differentiation. Journal of Experimental Botany 68(1): 55-69.
- Etchells, J. Peter & Turner, Simon R. (2017). Realizing pipe dreams – a detailed picture of vascular development. Journal of Experimental Botany 68(1): 1-4.
- Etchells, J. Peter, Smit, Margot E., Gaudinier, Allison, Williams, Clara J. & Brady, Siobhan M. (2016). A brief history of the TDIF-PXY signalling module: balancing meristem identity and differentiation during vascular development. New Phytologist 209(2): 474-484.
- Etchells, J. Peter & Turner, Simon R. (2010). Orientation of vascular cell divisions in Arabidopsis. Plant Signaling & Behavior 5(6): 730.
- Turner, S.R. Mishra, L.S. Kumar, M. & Etchells, J.P. (2016). Generation of biomass. US20180037900A1. Application filed: 1 September 2016. Granted: 30 November 1999
- Turner, S.R. & Etchells, J.P. (2014). Method for the alteration of plants using CLE polypeptides/peptides. US10023878B2. Application filed: 15 April 2014. Granted: 17 July 2018