My research team studies the genes that determine when and where, and thus how many, flowers are produced on plants. Flowers form on branches called inflorescences, which originate from stem cells. By studying the genes that control how stem cells become inflorescences, we are able to manipulate flower production to improve crop yields.
Zachary Lippman’s research focuses on the process of flowering and flower production in plants, which are major contributors to reproductive success and crop yield. Specifically, Lippman’s research program integrates development, genetics, genomics, and gene editing to explore the mechanisms that determine how plant stem cells become shoots and flowers. The lab takes advantage of extensive natural and mutant variation in inflorescence production and architecture in tomato and related nightshade species (e.g. potato, pepper, groundcherry) to explore how differences in these processes explain the remarkable diversity in the architectures of flower-bearing shoots (inflorescences) observed in nature and agriculture. Recent discoveries on the genes and networks underlying this diversity have led to broader questions on the significance of genomic structural variation, gene redundancy, and epistasis in development, domestication, and breeding. Based on our fundamental discoveries, Lippman is developing and applying innovative concepts and tools for crop improvement.