Dr Rachel Taylor AFHEA

Dr Rachel Taylor AFHEA


Expert plant genetics scientist with seven years of academic laboratory experience and a passion for teaching, producing award-wining talks at international conferences and organising outreach events.



  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Student supervisor
  • Postdoc Representative for the School of Biology

Research interests

As a postdoctoral fellow in the Davies group, funded on a 3-year grant from the BBSRC, my project is to understand how plants interpret temperature and implement that information in their decision-making. Through a forward genetic screen we identified an RNA methylase, FIO1, which methylates an A residue in the U6 component of the spliceosome, exactly at the point where the 5’ splice site is recognised. The consequence is that the temperature optima for a large number of alternative splice events is calibrated by the activity of FIO1, making it a major determinant of environmentally determined flowering time. Unpublished data from our laboratory also suggests that FIO1 methylates specific introns directly and thereby affects their splicing, independently of the global U6 effect.

Overall, this investigation will reveal the mechanism(s) through which the enigmatic FIO1 methyltransferase determines flowering time in Arabidopsis. We have collaborations in place to extend this knowledge into crop plants.


Taylor, R. E., Waterworth, W., West, C. E., & Foyer, C. H. (2023 - under review). WHIRLY proteins maintain seed longevity and regulate plant development. Biochemical Journal.

Schoonbeek, H. Yalcin, H. A., Burns, R. Taylor, R. E., Casey, A., Holt, S. Ackerveken, G. V., Wells, R.A. & Ridout, C. J. (2022). Necrosis and ethylene-inducing-like peptide patterns from crop pathogens induce differential responses within seven brassicaceous species. Plant Pathology, 71(9).

Taylor, R. E., West, C. E., & Foyer, C. H. (2022). WHIRLY protein functions in plants. Food and Energy Security, article no: e379.

Topham, A. T., Taylor, R. E., Yan, D., Nambara, E., Johnston, I. G., & Bassel, G. W. (2017). Temperature variability is integrated by a spatially embedded decision-making center to break dormancy in Arabidopsis seeds. PNAS, 114(25).

<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>


  • Plant Genetics PhD, University of Leeds, 2017-2022
  • MSc Plant Genetics & Crop Improvement, University of East Anglia, 2016-2017
  • BSc Biological Sciences, University of Birmingham, 2013-2016

Professional memberships

  • Early Career Scientist Membership, Society of Experimental Biology

Student education

Student Supervisor | University of Leeds (2023)

  • Supervise lab projects of masters students.

Demonstrator | University of Leeds (2018 – 2022)

  • Facilitated learning and taught laboratory skills on eight different modules.
  • Provided feedback to over 300 undergraduate and masters students.

Mentor | FutureLearn (2020 – 2022)

  • Provided outstanding-evaluated feedback on the top-rated course, ‘Improving Food Production with Agricultural Technology and Plant Biotechnology’.

Tutor | Realising Opportunities and Access to Leeds (2018 – 2021)

  • Delivered academic skills feedback to over 60 students.
  • Supported university applications for sixth form students from disadvantaged backgrounds.