Biography

A key driver for my move to UEA in 2011 was the opportunity to pursue a leadership role as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, alongside the opportunity to maintain my research on the molecular genetics of plant breeding systems.

I graduated in Genetics from the University of Leeds in 1983, and completed my PhD at Warwick University in 1986 where I worked on the isolation and characterisation of light-responsive genes in Pisum sativum with Professor John Ellis FRS. I then spent a postdoctoral year with Professor Mike Lord on the development of Ricin as an immuno-toxin.

I moved to New York in 1987 where I held a SERC-NATO Independent Fellowship in Professor Nam Hai Chua’s laboratory at The Rockefeller University. There I worked on light-regulated transcription and the characterisation of molecular light switches through which light-responsive gene expression is modulated, characterising both cis-regulatory promoter elements and their associated transcription factors. A second Independent Fellowship at The Rockefeller University from the Winston Foundation extended my work on light-regulated gene expression for a further two years.

I returned to the UK in 1991 to take up a faculty position at the University of Leeds where I continued work on light-responsive transcription, with a focus on the GATA family of plant transcription factors in Arabidopsis thaliana. I also established projects on plant sex determination and floral heteromorphy which remain the focus of our current research.

At the University of Leeds I taught on a wide range of courses and also took on a range of additional responsibilities. In 1998 I became Director of the Centre for Plant Sciences, and in 2004 became pro-Dean for Research in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

In 2007 I moved to Durham University as Principal of St Mary’s College. This move enabled me to contribute to a University role that focused on the student experience in a collegiate system. This position not only provided considerable opportunity for student and alumni engagement, but also enabled me to maintain my research interests and refocus my laboratory on the molecular genetics of plant breeding systems.

In 2011, I moved to UEA as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science in an environment where I can pursue my research interests and benefit from the unparalleled collaborative opportunities offered by the Norwich Research Park. Current research focuses on plant sex determination in Silene dioica and floral heteromorphy in Primula vulgaris with funding from the BBSRC and Leverhulme Trust.


Career History

  • Executive Dean, Faculty of Science, University of East Anglia (2011 - present)
  • Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics, University of East Anglia (2011 - present)
  • Principal, St Mary’s College, Durham University (2008 - 2001)
  • Deputy Dean of Colleges, Durham University (2008 - 2011)
  • Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics, Durham University (2008 - 2011)
  • Pro-Dean for Research, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds (2004 - 2007)
  • Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics, University of Leeds (1999 - 2007)
  • Director, Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds (1998 - 2004)
  • Senior Lecturer Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds (1997 - 1999)
  • Lecturer, Centre for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds (1991 - 1997)
  • Winston Foundation Personal Fellowship, The Rockefeller University (1989 - 1991)
  • SERC-NATO Personal Research Fellowship, The Rockefeller University (1987 - 1989)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Warwick University (1986 - 1987)
  • Ph.D. Plant Molecular Biology, Warwick University (1986)
  • B.Sc. (1st Class Hons.) Genetics, University of Leeds (1983)

All Publications

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Li, J., Cocker, J. M., Wright, J., Webster, M. A., McMullan, M., Dyer, S., Swarbreck, D., Caccamo, M., van Oosterhout, C., Gilmartin, P. M.

(2016)

Genetic architecture and evolution of the S locus supergene in Primula vulgaris,

in Nature Plants

2

article no. 16188

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Hayta, S., Smedley, M., Li, J., Harwood, W., Gilmartin, P.

(2016)

Plant regeneration from leaf-derived callus cultures of Primrose (Primula vulgaris),

in HortScience

51

(5)

pp. 558-562

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Cocker, J., Webster, M., Li, J., Wright, J., Kaithakottil, G., Swarbreck, D., Gilmartin, P.

(2015)

Oakleaf: an S locus-linked mutation of Primula vulgaris that affects leaf and flower development,

in New Phytologist

208

(1)

pp. 149-161

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Li, J., Webster, M., Wright, J., Cocker, J., Smith, M., Badakshi, F., Heslop-Harrison, P., Gilmartin, P.

(2015)

Integration of genetic and physical maps of the Primula vulgaris S locus and localization by chromosome in situ hybridization,

in New Phytologist

208

(1)

pp. 137-148

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Gilmartin, P.

(2015)

On the origins of observations of heterostyly in Primula,

in New Phytologist

208

pp. 39-51

Full Text

(Literature review)

(Published)


Ingle, E. K. S., Gilmartin, P. M.

(2015)

Molecular characterisation of four double-flowered mutants of Silene dioica representing four centuries of variation,

in Journal of Experimental Botany

66

(11)

pp. 3297-3307

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Li, J., Webster, M., Smith, M., Gilmartin, P.

(2011)

Floral heteromorphy in Primula vulgaris: Progress towards isolation and characterization of the S locus,

in Annals of Botany

108

(4)

pp. 715-726

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Gilmartin, P., Li, J.

(2010)

Homing in on heterostyly,

in Heredity

105

(2)

pp. 161-162

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Li, J., Gilmartin, P., Dudas, B., Webster, M., Cook, H., Davies, B.

(2010)

Hose in Hose, an S locus-linked mutant of Primula vulgaris, is caused by an unstable mutation at the Globosa locus,

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)

107

(12)

pp. 5664-5668

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Ahmed, S., Compton, S., Butlin, R., Gilmartin, P.

(2009)

Wind-borne insects mediate directional pollen transfer between desert fig trees 160 kilometers apart,

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)

106

(48)

pp. 20342-20347

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Needham, C., Manfield, I., Bulpitt, A., Gilmartin, P., Westhead, D.

(2009)

From gene expression to gene regulatory networks in Arabidopsis thaliana,

in BMC Systems Biology

3

article no. 85

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Li, J., Webster, M., Dudas, B., Cook, H., Manfield, I., Davies, B., Gilmartin, P.

(2008)

The S locus-linked Primula homeotic mutant sepaloid shows characteristics of a B-function mutant but does not result from mutation in a B-function gene,

in The Plant Journal

56

(1)

pp. 1-12

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Ahmed, S., Gilmartin, P., Dawson, D., Compton, S.

(2007)

Characterization of microsatellite loci in the African fig Ficus sycomorus L. (Moraceae),

in Molecular Ecology Notes

7

(6)

pp. 1175-1177

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Zavodna, M., Knapp, S., Compton, S., Arens, P., Vosman, B., Van Dijk, P., Gilmartin, P., Van Damme, J.

(2007)

Reconstruction of fig wasp mating structure: How many mothers share a fig?,

in Ecological Entomology

32

(5)

pp. 485-491

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Li, J., Webster, M., Gilmartin, P., Furuya, M.

(2007)

Identification and characterization of pin and thrum alleles of two genes that co-segregate with the Primula S locus,

in The Plant Journal

51

(1)

pp. 18-31

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Manfield, I., Gilmartin, P., Jen, C., Westhead, D., Devlin, P.

(2007)

Conservation, convergence, and divergence of light-responsive, circadian-regulated, and tissue-specific expression patterns during evolution of the Arabidopsis GATA gene family,

in Plant Physiology

143

(2)

pp. 941-958

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Webster, M., Gilmartin, P.

(2006)

Analysis of late stage flower development in Primula vulgaris reveals novel differences in cell morphology and temporal aspects of floral heteromorphy,

in New Phytologist

171

(3)

pp. 591-603

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Manfield, I., Jen, C., Pinney, J., Michalopoulos, I., Bradford, J., Westhead, D., Gilmartin, P.

(2006)

Arabidopsis Co-expression Tool (ACT): Web server tools for microarray-based gene expression analysis,

in Nucleic Acids Research

34

(WEB. SERV. ISS.)

pp. W504-W509

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Jen, C., Manfield, I., Michalopoulos, I., Pinney, J., Willats, W., Gilmartin, P., Westhead, D.

(2006)

The Arabidopsis co-expression tool (ACT): A WWW-based tool and database for microarray-based gene expression analysis,

in The Plant Journal

46

(2)

pp. 336-348

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Moore, J., Zavodna, M., Compton, S., Gilmartin, P.

(2005)

Sex ratio strategies and the evolution of cue use,

in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

272

(1569)

pp. 1287-1294

Full Text UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


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Key Research Interests

Research in our lab is focused on plant breeding systems that involve development of different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. We focus primarily on two experimental models, floral heteromorphy in the Primula species, and sex determination in Silene species with the aim of identifying and characterising the molecular genetic mechanism that underpin these reproductive strategies.

Floral heteromorphy is a characteristic of, but not limited to, the Primulaceae and epitomised by Primula vulgaris, the common primrose. Individuals develop one of two forms of flower, known as pin and thrum. Pin flowers have a long style that presents the stigma at the mouth of the flower, with anthers attached midway down the inner corolla tube. Thrum flowers have a short style and anthers attached to the inner corolla wall at the mouth of the flower. This reciprocal positioning of male and female reproductive structures, known as reciprocal herkogamy, promotes insect-mediated cross pollination. These characteristics, and other features of floral heteromorphy, including differential pollens size and a sporophytic self-incompatibility system, are controlled by a co-adapted linkage group known as the S locus. Pin plants are homozygous recessive (s/s); thrum plants are heterozygous (S/s). BBSRC funding supports our work on the Primula S locus and we are working towards the identification and characterisation of the S locus genes that orchestrate floral heteromorphy. Using a combination of classical genetic analysis, molecular genetics techniques, genome sequencing, mutagenesis and screening, alongside plant transformation approaches we have made significant progress towards identifying the key genes controlling pin and thrum flower development.

In dioecy, separate male and female flowers are produced on different individuals as exemplified by Silene dioica, red campion, and S. latifolia, white campion. Sex determination in these species is controlled by heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Females have two X chromosomes; males have an X and a Y. The dominant male determining Y chromosome suppresses carpel development, promotes stamen development, and is required for pollen production. In the absence of a Y sex chromosome, carpels develop normally but stamens arrest at the primordia stage. Infection of dioecious Silene with the anther smut fungus Microbotryum violaceum causes development of anthers in genetically female flowers; the pathogen mimics the Y chromosome-encoded signal for male reproductive development. We are working to define the sex determination genes on the male-determining Y chromosome responsible for suppression of carpel development and promotion of stamen development, and to identify the Microbotryum-derived signal for another development. Funding from the Leverhulme Trust supports work on characterisation of an unstable mutation in a flower pigment gene that leads to red and white sectored variegated flowers in S. dioica. We are working towards using the transposon responsible for this instability locus as a tool for reverse genetic approaches to identify key sex determination genes.

Our laboratory is located within the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park. If you are interested in pursuing PhD or post doctoral research opportunities in our group working on either of our model systems, please email me directly p.gilmartin@uea.ac.uk

Research Group Membership

Professor Phil Gilmartin, Group Leader
Dr Jinhong Li,  Independent Research Fellow
Dr Elizabeth Ingle, Post-doctoral Research Associate
Dr Sadiye Hayte, Post-doctoral Research Associate
Mr Matthew Smith, Fourth year PhD student
Ms Olivia Kent, First year PhD student
Mr Jonathan Cocker, First year PhD student
Mrs Pamela Wells, Horticulture technician

Teaching Interests

I have a wide range of teaching interest and experience covering plant genetics, molecular biology, gene regulation and development.   Final year projects linked to our core research interest of floral heteromorphy in Primula and sex determination in Silene are available.  I am also keen to discuss summer research studentship opportunities in my lab with interested undergraduate students. 

Professional Activities

  • Honorary External Faculty Member, John Innes Centre (2013 - present)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Leeds (2008 - 2010)
  • Visiting Professor, Institute of Genetics & Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing (2007 - 2011)
  • EU ERA-CAPS Scientific Review Panel (2013)
  • DFG German Plant Science Excellence Initiative panel member (2010 - 2011)
  • BBSRC Plants and Microbial Sciences Committee (2005 - 2008)
  • RAE 2008 Panel D UoA 14 (Biological Sciences) panel member (2005 - 2008)
  • Editorial board member, Nature Scientific Reports (2011 - present)
  • Governing Board, Otley and Easton College (2013 - present)
  • Board of Governors, Durham School (2010 - 2011)
  • Trustee, The Sheep Trust (2002 - 2008)
  • Gatsby Plant Science Undergraduate Student Mentor (2000 - 2008)
  • External examiner BSc Biological Sciences, University of Warwick (2012 - 2015)
  • External examiner BSc Biology, University of Southampton (2011 - 2014)
  • External examiner BSc Plant Sciences, University of Nottingham (2005 - 2008)
  • External examiner BSc Biology, University of Oxford (2005 - 2008)
  • External examiner MSc in Plant Science, Glasgow University (2012 - 2014)
  • External examiner MSc in Biology, University of Mauritius (2010 - 2011)
  • Examiner for 55 PhD theses
  • Member of the Society for Experimental Biology
  • Member of the Genetics Society
  • Fellow of the Linnaean Society (FLS)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)

Administrative Posts

  • Member of UEA Executive Team
  • Chair of Faculty of Science Executive Committee
  • Chair of Faculty of Science Promotions Committee
  • Member of University Senate
  • Observer on University Council
  • Chair of University Sustainability Board
  • Member University Health and Safety Committee
  • Member of University Equality and Diversity Committee
  • Member University Internationalization Board
  • Member of Norwich Research Park Science Strategy Board
  • Member Norwich Bioscience Institute Partnership (NBIP) Audit Committee
  • UEA Observer, The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) Council
  • UEA Observer, John Innes Centre Governing Council
  • UEA representative, The Sainsbury Laboratory Council