Anna Elisabeth Backhaus: Plant Physiology First Author

Anna Elisabeth Backhaus, first author of “High expression of the MADS-box gene VRT2 increases the number of rudimentary basal spikelets in wheat”

Current Position: PhD student at the John Innes Centre, supervised by Cristobal Uauy, Richard Morris and Wilfried Haerty

Education: Bachelor of Science, University of East Anglia (UK), Master of Plant Sciences, Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelm Universität Bonn (Germany)

Non-scientific Interests: Jenga

Brief bio:

I was drawn to the study of plants because increasing crop productivity will be of great importance to keep up with future food demands but also to safeguard our planet’s vanishing ecosystems from them. During my Bachelor, Master, and PhD project I therefore studied the development of cereals and, in particular, how the inflorescence of wheat produces the grains we like to eat.

My current research focuses on the genetic and developmental events downstream of the flowering signal in wheat: How are spikelet meristems initiated after floral transition and what determines their size? In my project I am addressing this questions by taking a closer look at the development of spikelets at the base compared to the development of spikelets in the centre of the wheat spike. Basal spikelets are smaller even though they were developed first. The spike is thus a great system to investigate what other factors can negatively affect spikelet initiation and growth.

I am looking forward to combining a variety of techniques, including live imaging, spatially resolved transcriptomics and bioinformatics to help me to answer my questions.