Sara Lopez-Gomollon

Sara Lopez-Gomollon

Position: Broodbank Senior Research Fellow

Department: Plant Sciences

Keywords: plant biology, epigenetics, gene regulation, sRNA, DNA methylation, hybrids

I am a Broodbank Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Plant Sciences. I joined the Department as a postdoc in the group of Sir David Baulcombe, working on tomato hybrids.

I am fascinated about how plants respond to internal and external factors, how they can adapt to or fight that stress. Hybrids are the progeny of two different parents, and they have been used in agriculture for centuries because sometimes hybrids have an interesting trait (such an increase in yield). But hybrids also experience stress, that is called “genome shock”.

We use molecular tools to analyse the effect of hybridisation. Our results show that a group of viruses, that have been latent in the plant genome, can suddenly be active after hybridisation. However, the plant has a system to keep those viruses under control before producing disease.

Recently I have started to explore the molecular effect of grafts. There are many vegetables that are commercially grown as grafted plants. We think that, as in hybrids, in a graft you can find molecules from one plant having an effect in the plant at the other side of the graft. These mobile molecules can influence the genome, changing gene expression. We want to explore this and if this effect will be inherited in the offspring.

Get in touch: sl750 [at] cam.ac.uk, twitter @GomollonSara