Stephen Pearce


HHMI Research Associate


  • PhD, University of Bristol, based at Rothamsted Research, UK. 2009.
  • MSc, Plant Biotechnology (Distinction), University of Sussex, UK, 2005.
  • BSc, Genetics, University of Leeds, UK, 2003.
Stephen Pearce


I completed my PhD in 2009 in Peter Hedden's laboratory at Rothamsted Research, UK. During this time I studied the roles of gibberellin biosynthetic and signalling genes in wheat, with a focus on stem elongation (Plant Phys 157:1820). I joined the Dubcovsky lab in 2009 as a postdoc and since 2012 I have worked as an HHMI Research Associate. My principal research interest is in understanding the regulation of wheat flowering development and recently described experiments which incorporate gibberellin into our current flowering models in the temperate cereals (Plant Phys 163:1433).

I also study frost tolerance in wheat and have described the effects of natural genetic diversity at the FR2 locus which is comprised of a cluster of CBF transcription factors, central regulators of cold acclimation (TAG 126:2683; TAG 127:1183). This led to the characterization of large deletions and CNV at this locus which are associated with variation in frost tolerance.

I am also leading a project aiming to expand our knowledge of the role which GPC, a NAC-domain transcription factor, plays in senescence and nutrient translocation to the wheat grain. Through a combination of field studies and RNA-seq analysis, we have characterized the transcriptomic changes regulated by the GPC gene during the onset of monocarpic senescence, including members of several different Zn and Fe transporter genes (BMC Genomics 12:492; BMC Plant Biology, 14:368).


Pearce S., Tabbita F., Cantu C., Buffalo V., Avni R., Vazquez-Gross H., Zhao R., Conley C.J., Distelfeld A. and Dubcovsky J., 2014. Regulation of Zn and Fe transporters by the GPC1 gene during early wheat monocarpic senescence. BMC Plant Biology. 14:368.

Nitcher R., Pearce S., Tranquilli G. and Dubcovsky J., 2014. Effect of the Hope FT-B1 allele on wheat heading time and yield components. Journal of Heredity 105: 666-675.

Lv B., Nitcher R., Han X., Wang S., Ni F., Li K., Pearce S., Wu J., Dubcovsky J. and Fu D., 2014. Characterization of FLOWERING LOCUS T1 (FT1) gene in Brachypodium and wheat. PLoS ONE 9: e94171.

Zhu J., *Pearce S., Burke A., See D.R., Skinner D.Z., Dubcovsky J. and Garland Campbell K., 2014. Copy number and haplotype variation at the VRN-A1 and central FR-A2 loci are associated with frost tolerance in hexaploid wheat. Theoretical Applied Genetics 127: 1183-1197. *Joint-first author.

Avni R., Zhao R., Pearce S., Jun Y., Uauy C., Tabbita F., Fahima T., Slade A., Dubcovsky J. and Distelfeld A., 2013. Functional characterization of GPC-1 genes in hexaploid wheat. Planta 239: 313-324.

Pearce S., Vanzetti L., and Dubcovsky J. Exogenous gibberellins induce wheat spike development under short days only in the presence of VRN1. Plant Physiology 163: 1433-1445.

Pearce S., Zhu J., Boldizsár A., Vágújfalvi A., Burke A., Garland-Campbell K., Galiba G. and Dubcovsky J., 2013. Large deletions in the CBF gene cluster at the Fr-B2 locus are associated with reduced frost tolerance in wheat. Theoretical Applied Genetics 126: 2683-2697.

Krasileva K.V., Buffalo V., Bailey P., Pearce S., Ayling S., Tabbita F., Soria M., Wang S., IWGS Consortium, Akhunov E., Uauy C. and Dubcovsky J., 2013. Separating homeologs by phasing in the tetraploid wheat transcriptomeGenome Biology 14: R66.

Distelfeld A., Pearce S.P., Avni R., Scherer B., Uauy C., Piston F., Slade A., Zhao R. and Dubcovsky J., 2012. Divergent functions of orthologous NAC transcription factors in wheat and rice. Plant Molecular Biology 78: 515-24.

Pearce S.P., Saville R., Vaughan S.P., Chandler P.M., Wilhelm E.P., Sparks C.A., Korolev A., Al-Kaff N., Boulton M.I., Phillips A.L., Hedden P., Nicholson P. and Thomas S.G., 2011. Molecular characterisation of Rht-1 dwarfing genes in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum). Plant Physiology 157: 1820-31.

Cantu D., *Pearce S.P., Distelfeld A., Christiansen M.W., Uauy C., Akhunov E., Fahima T. and Dubcovsky J., 2011. Effect of the down-regulation of the high Grain Protein Content (GPC) genes on the wheat transcriptome during monocarpic senescence. BMC Genomics 12: 492. *Joint-first author.

Dhillon T., *Pearce S.P., Stockinger E.J., Distelfeld A., Li C., Knox A.K., Vashegyi I.,  Vágújfalvi A., Galiba G. and Dubcovsky J., 2010. Regulation of freezing tolerance and flowering in temperate cereals: the VRN-1 connection. Plant Physiology 153: 1846-58. *Joint-first author.

Appleford N.E.J., Wilkinson M.D., Ma Q., Evans D.J., Stone M.C., Pearce S.P., Powers S.J., Thomas S.G., Jones H.D., Phillips A.L., Hedden P. and Lenton J.R., 2007. Decreased shoot stature and grain alpha-amylase activity following ectopic expression of a gibberellin 2-oxidase gene in transgenic wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany 58: 3213-26.