Tom has had a passion for plant development since learning about the ABC model of floral development as an undergraduate in Leeds (1999-2002). He did his PhD with Ottoline Leyser in York (2002-2006), studying the regulation of shoot branching by ‘mystery compound X’ — which we now know to be the strigolactone class of plant hormones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was during this period that Tom’s core quest to understand how long distance signalling coordinates plant development really evolved.
- Bennett et al (2006). The MAX pathway controls shoot branching by regulating auxin transport. Current Biology 16, 553-563.
- Prusinkiewicz et al (2009). Control of Bud Activation by an Auxin Transport Switch. PNAS 106, 17431-17436.
Reaching the end of his PhD, Tom may have declared that he “was never working on auxin again”, the first in a series of very poor predictions about his own career path (see also: “I’m only working on Arabidopsis from now on” and “I’ll never work with wheat”). Tom thus moved to the Utrecht in the Netherlands to work on root cap development with Ben Scheres (2007-2010). This very much satisfied a desire to work on a classical developmental patterning system, but represents something of a outlier as far as the general career tangent goes.
- Willemsen et al (2008). The NAC domain transcription factors FEZ and SMB control the orientation of cell division plane in Arabidopsis root stem cells. Developmental Cell 15, 913-922.
- Bennett et al (2010). SOMBRERO, BEARSKIN1 and BEARKSIN2 regulate root cap maturation in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 22, 640-654.
- Bennett & Scheres (2010). Root development: two meristems for the price of one? Current Topics in Developmental Biology 91, 67-102
- Bennett et al (2014). Precise control of plant stem cell activity through parallel regulatory inputs. Development 141, 4055-4064.
Moving back to the UK, Tom worked in Jill Harrison’s lab in Cambridge (2010-2012), working on regulation of development in the moss Physcomitrella patens. Tom never really got on with ‘Physco’, but the project helped to underline the potential of evolutionary and comparative approaches to studying plant development.
- Bennett et al (2014). Plasma membrane targeted PIN proteins drive shoot development in a moss. Current Biology 24, 2776-2785.
- Bennett et al (2014). Paralagous radiations of PIN proteins with multiple origins of non-canonical PIN structure. Molecular Biology and Evolution 31, 2042-2060.
Tom then moved to the newly-built Sainsbury Lab Cambridge University for a second stint in Ottoline Leyser’s lab (2012-2017). This was a hugely exciting time, both to be working in a ‘cathedral’ of plant science, and to be part of establishing a brand new research institute. It was also a highly productive time!
- Seale et al (2017). BRC1 expression regulates bud activation potential, but is not necessary or sufficient for bud dormancy in Arabidopsis. Development, 144, 1661-1673.
- Bennett et al (2016). Strigolactone regulates shoot development through a core signalling pathway. Biol Open. pii: bio.021402. doi: 10.1242/bio.021402
- Liang et al (2016). SMXL7 signals from the nucleus to control shoot development in Arabidopsis by partially EAR-independent mechanisms. The Plant Cell, 28, 1581-1601
- Bennett et al (2016). Connective auxin transport in the shoot facilitates communication between shoot apices. PLoS Biology 14, e1002446.
- Soundappan et al (2015). SMAX1-LIKE/D53 family members enable distinct MAX2-dependent responses to strigolactones and karrikins in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell 27, 3143-3159.
- Bennett & Leyser (2014). Strigolactone signalling: standing on the shoulders of DWARFs. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 22C, 7-13.
- Bennett & Leyser (2014). The auxin question: a philosophical overview. In ‘Auxin and its role in Plant Development’ (E. Zažímalová, J. Petrasek & E. Benkova, Eds.). Berlin: Springer.
- Bennett et al (2014). Canalization: what the flux? Trends in Genetics 30, 41-48.
Tom moved to Leeds in October 2017 to start his own research group, bringing things back to where it all began!