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. Second, 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 Arabidopsis thaliana relative we developed into a model system for studying evolution of plant form.

Most important publications

  1. Li XM, Jenke H, Strauss S, Bazakos C, Mosca G, Lymbouridou R, Kierzkowski D, Neumann U, Naik P, Huijser P, Laurent S, Smith RS, Runions A, Tsiantis M (2024) Cell-cycle-linked growth reprogramming encodes developmental time into leaf morphogenesis. Curr Biol 34(3):541-556 e515. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.12.050.
  2. Bhatia N, Wilson-Sanchez D, Strauss S, Vuolo F, Pieper B, Hu Z, Rambaud-Lavigne L, Tsiantis M (2023) Interspersed expression of CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON2 and REDUCED COMPLEXITY shapes Cardamine hirsuta complex leaf form. Curr Biol 33(14):2977-2987 e2976. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.06.037.
  3. Baumgarten L, Pieper B, Song B, Mane S, Lempe J, Lamb J, Cooke EL, Srivastava R, Strutt S, Zanko D, Casimiro PG, Hallab A, Cartolano M, Tattersall AD, Huettel B, Filatov DA, Pavlidis P, Neuffer B, Bazakos C, Schaefer H, Mott R, Gan X, Alonso-Blanco C, Laurent S, Tsiantis M (2023) Pan-European study of genotypes and phenotypes in the Arabidopsis relative Cardamine hirsuta reveals how adaptation, demography, and development shape diversity patterns. PLoS Biol 21(7):e3002191. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002191.
  4. Wang Y, Strauss S, Liu S, Pieper B, Lymbouridou R, Runions A, Tsiantis M (2022) The cellular basis for synergy between RCO and KNOX1 homeobox genes in leaf shape diversity. Curr Biol 32(17):3773-3784 e3775. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.08.020.
  5. Liu S, Strauss S, Adibi M, Mosca G, Yoshida S, Dello Ioio R, Runions A, Andersen TG, Grossmann G, Huijser P, Smith RS, Tsiantis M (2022) Cytokinin promotes growth cessation in the Arabidopsis root. Curr Biol 32(9):1974-1985 e1973. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.03.019.
  6. 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. Curr Biol 30(24):4857-4868 e4856. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.09.037.
  7. 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(6):1405-1418 e1417. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.011.
  8. 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 MG, Hay A, Tsiantis M (2015) Alternate wiring of a KNOXI genetic network underlies differences in leaf development of A. thaliana and C. hirsuta. Genes Dev 29(22):2391-2404. doi: 10.1101/gad.269050.115.
  9. 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 U S A 112(33):10539-10544. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1419791112.
  10. 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(6172):780-783. doi: 10.1126/science.1248384.


Prof. Dr. Miltos Tsiantis
Miltos Tsiantis

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