Dr Laura Dixon


I am a plant scientist who focuses on understanding how monocot plants respond, both developmentally and at the molecular level, to environmental stimuli. I have a particular interest in understanding the role of temperature in controlling plant growth and development.

Research interests

Understanding vernalization in the field

The response to over-wintering (vernalization) is important for wheat development and agriculture. Through its utilization, by chance and design, agriculture has developed high yielding winter varieties and fast-growing spring varieties which have been essential in establishing wheat as a global crop. We know a number of genes in the vernalization pathway yet we do not fully understand how they interact or how the response proceeds in the field at a molecular level. We are combining genetics, molecular and developmental biology to identify and understand the processes controlling cereal vernalization in the field.

Regulating the rate of apex transition in response to changing temperatures

An important component in determining the yield potential of wheat occurs during the floral apex transition. Temperature is an important signal in regulating this transition and we focus our research in this area to identify genes which control the rate of this transition and how they can be applied to wheat breeding to make this temperature sensitive developmental stage more temperature robust.

Developing the temperature signalling network 

To understand temperature signalling we need to know how each of the identified molecular components interact. This will enable the identification of signalling hubs and therefore the identification of natural diversity within these genes which can be rapidly applied to crop improvement programmes. This research combines molecular biology with population screening and field trials to test the final selected alleles.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • PhD Biology, University of Edinburgh

Professional memberships

  • Society of Experimental Biology

Student education

Undergraduate teaching:

BLGY3173 Plant Growth, Resources and Food Security

BLGY3110 Applied Genetics


Post-graduate teaching:



Research groups and institutes

  • Crop science, genetics and physiology
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Plant Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>