Dr Dana MacGregor
Postdoctoral researcher


Dana’s scientific career has been aimed at understanding how plants can perceive what is happening in their environment and alter their biology at the molecular level to adapt both architecture and life-style to thrive in the environment in which the seed has decided to germinate.

Throughout a plant’s life cycle, a plant must sense and respond to the environmental cues it is receiving. Dana is interested in environmental-input steps throughout the whole life cycle. For instance, the mother plant passes along information about the temperature at which the seeds are maturing to ensure the correct level of seed dormancy is set at seed maturity (MacGregor et al., in preparation). During early seedling development, osmotic stress is sensed by roots and through an abscisic acid-dependent pathway the permeability of the new leaves is altered (MacGregor et al., 2008). Additionally, sugar levels, a readout of photosynthetic activity, are essential for determining the size of the root system and its architecture (MacGregor et al., 2008). Day to day variations in light and temperature can not only alter photosynthetic capability, but they are also key for entraining the circadian clock ensuring the clock’s output activities are correctly timed (Gould et al., 2013). The clock itself is essential for coordinating the correct levels of gene expression in response to and preparation for cold stress (Keily & MacGregor et al., 2013). Correct timing of the circadian clock also requires correct mRNA export, therefore the most basic of molecular activities (MacGregor et al., 2013).  Therefore, the cycle of seed to seed, plant to plant, is dependent on how well 1) the seed coordinated its germination with optimal environmental conditions, 2) the plant responded to the availability of water, light, and temperature to create the best architecture for its environment, and 3) the mother plant was able to pass along relevant information to its seed so it would have the correct level of dormancy. To be successful therefore, plants must constantly sense and respond to their environment so they have the optimal transcriptome for whatever challenge they are faced with. It is this cycle that Dana is interested in understanding further.


Associate of the Higher Education Academy (University of Exeter and H.E.A.) -- January 2013

Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cellular Biology (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA) -- June 2008

B.S. with honours in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, USA),  -- June 2002


2013 - 2016
Named Researcher, Control of seed coat plasticity for seed quality in industry
BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award (IPA)
University of Exeter, Steven Penfield

See 1 minute interview for #SpeedUpdating at www.exeter.ac.uk/research/speedupdating/

2008 - 2013
PDRA, The Regulation of Biological Signalling by Temperature (ROBuST),
University of Exeter, College of Life and Environmental Sciences (2011 - 2013), Steven Penfield, Karen Halliday et al.
University of York, Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (2008 - 2011)

This BBSRC SABR grant incorporates research from groups based at the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Warwick. For more information visit the ROBuST website or watch the video below.


2002 - 2008
Ph.D. Molecular Genetics and Cellular Biology

University of Chicago, Jocelyn Malamy
The roles of LRD2, sugars, and the hormones ABA and Auxin in regulating Arabidopsis lateral root formation, University of Chicago, Supervisor Dr. Jocelyn E. Malamy

1998 - 2002
B.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, USA
Graduated summa cum laude with Honours
Member of Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa
Junior Year Abroad at University of East Anglia, Norwich , UK


Contact details

TelNot Known
AddressGeoffrey Pope Building
University of Exeter
Stocker Road

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