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Genetics Society Medal 2016


Ottoline Leyser is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Her research uses the control of shoot branching in Arabidopsis as a model system to understand plant developmental plasticity and the role of plant hormones in integrating endogenous and environmental inputs into development. She has made significant contributions to understand the signal transduction of the plant hormone auxin, as well as the more recently identified hormone, strigolactone. These discoveries underpin her main aim, which is to understand how local and systemic signaling mechanisms give rise to environmentally sensitive shoot system architectures. This work is increasingly dependent on computational modeling to understand the dynamic networks involved.

Ottoline received her BA (1986) and PhD (1990) in Genetics at the University of Cambridge. After three years at Indiana University in the lab of Mark Estelle, eventfully punctuated by the birth of her two children, she returned to the UK and took up a faculty position at the University of York, moving to the new Sainsbury Laboratory in 2011.