Prof. Dr. Miltos Tsiantis

Research focus

We seek to address two fundamental questions in biology: how do biological forms develop and what is the basis for their diversity? To address these questions we first aim to elucidate how genotypes are translated into organismal forms through the process of morphogenesis. Secondly, we seek to conceptualize how the balance of conservation versus divergence in morphogenetic regulatory networks yields different organismal forms during evolution. We approach these problems using genetics, while also employing biological imaging, genomics and computational modelling and we are currently investigating diversification of different aspects of shoot and leaf morphology. Our research is empowered by the use of Cardamine hirsuta an A.thaliana relative we developed into a model system for studying evolution of plant form.

The ten most important publications

  1. Bhatia N, Runions A, Tsiantis M. (2021) Leaf shape diversity: From genetic modules to computational models. Annual Reviews in Plant Biology, 72:325-356
  2. Zhang Z, Runions A, Mentink RA, Kierzkowski D, Karady M, Hashemi B, Huijser P, Strauß S, Gan X, Ljung K & Tsiantis M (2020). A WOX/Auxin Biosynthesis Module Controls Growth to Shape Leaf Form. Current Biology, 30:4857-4868.
  3. Kierzkowski D, Runions A, Vuolo F, Strauss S, Lymbouridou R, Routier-Kierzkowska AL, Wilson-Sanchez D, Jenke H, Galinha C, Mosca G, Zhang Z, Canales C, Dello Ioio R, Huijser P, Smith RS & Tsiantis M (2019). A growth-based framework for leaf shape development and diversity. Cell, 177:1405-1418.
  4. Gan X, Hay A, Kwantes M, Haberer G, Hallab A, Ioio RD, Hofhuis H, Pieper B, Cartolano M, Neumann U, Nikolov LA, Song B, Hajheidari M, Briskine R, Kougioumoutzi E, Vlad D, Broholm S, Hein J, Meksem K, Lightfoot D, Shimizu KK, Shimizu-Inatsugi R, Imprialou M, Kudrna D, Wing R, Sato S, Huijser P, Filatov D, Mayer KF, Mott R, Tsiantis M. (2016)  The Cardamine hirsuta genome offers insight into the evolution of morphological diversity. Nat Plants 2, 16167.
  5. Vuolo F, Mentink RA, Hajheidari M, Bailey CD, Filatov DA, Tsiantis M (2016). Coupled enhancer and coding sequence evolution of a homeobox gene shaped leaf diversity.  Genes and Development, 30:2370-2375.
  6. Cartolano M, Pieper B, Lempe J, Tattersall A, Huijser P, Tresch A, Darrah PR, Hay A & Tsiantis M (2015). Heterochrony underpins natural variation in Cardamine hirsuta leaf form. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 112:10539-10544.
  7. Rast-Somssich MI, Broholm S, Jenkins H, Canales C, Vlad D, Kwantes M, Bilsborough G, Dello Ioio R, Ewing RM, Laufs P, Huijser P, Ohno C, Heisler G, Hay A and Tsiantis M (2015). Alternate wiring of a KNOXI genetic network underlies differences in leaf development of A. thaliana and C. hirsuta. Genes and Development, 29:2391-2404.
  8. Vlad D, Kierzkowski D, Rast MI, Vuolo F, Dello Ioio R, Galinha C, Gan X, Hajheidari M, Hay A, Smith RS, Huijser P, Bailey CD & Tsiantis M (2014). Leaf shape evolution through duplication, regulatory diversification, and loss of a homeobox gene. Science, 343:780-3.              
  9. Bilsborough G, Runions A, Barkoulas M, Jenkins H, Hasson A, Galinha C, Laufs P, Hay A, Prusinkiewicz P, & Tsiantis M (2011). Model for the regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana leaf margin development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 108:3424-3429.
  10. Barkoulas M, Hay A, Kouyioumoutzi E & Tsiantis M (2008). A developmental framework for dissected leaf formation in the Arabidopsis relative Cardamine hirsuta. Nature Genetics, 40:1136 – 1141.


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Prof. Dr. Miltos Tsiantis
CEPLAS Miltos Tsiantis

+49221 5062106

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Department of Comparative Development and Genetics
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research