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.
An essay from the President: Biology for the planet
May 16, 2019
CSHL plant scientists are looking for solutions to the biggest questions in agriculture as environments are reshaped by climate change.
Cryptic mutation is cautionary tale for crop gene editing
May 6, 2019
Unexpected interactions between mutations can be a thorn in the side for plant breeders. Scientists unveil what drove one infamous “cryptic” mutation.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announces exclusive license with plant breeding start-up Inari
April 16, 2019
CSHL announced a licensing agreement with partner Inari, a company that is advancing plant breeding by tapping nature’s genetic diversity.
To protect stem cells, plants have diverse genetic backup plans
April 15, 2019
Experts discover how an essential genetic circuit found in all flowering plants, regardless of species, is protected in startlingly different ways.
The year of CRISPR
December 26, 2018
A look at the various labs across CSHL that utilize CRISPR in their research, and the groundbreaking discoveries they help uncover.
CRISPR could bring groundcherries to market
October 1, 2018
CSHL Professor Zachary Lippman uses CRISPR to make the groundcherry more suitable for large-scale farming
A science writer’s quest to understand heredity
May 30, 2018
LabDish spoke with science writer Carl Zimmer about what he learned about heredity as he zig-zagged through CSHL while writing his new book.
Prof. Zachary Lippman named Blavatnik Award finalist
May 30, 2018
Professor Zachary Lippman was chosen as a Finalist in Life Sciences for the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards
CSHL’s Zachary Lippman named HHMI Investigator
May 23, 2018
CSHL Professor Zach Lippman is selected as an HHMI investigator, in recognition of his innovative work in the field of plant genetics
One experiment: Twice the tomatoes
March 22, 2018
Zachary Lippman’s team found a way to boost tomato yield by digging into the plant’s genome and fine-tuning its branching patterns.
Lemmon, Z. H. and Reem, N. T. and Dalrymple, J. and Soyk, S. and Swartwood, K. E. and Rodriguez-Leal, D. and Van Eck, J. and Lippman, Z. B. (2018) Rapid improvement of domestication traits in an orphan crop by genome editing. Nature Plants, 4(10) pp. 766-770.
Rodríguez-Leal, Daniel and Lemmon, Zachary H. and Man, Jarrett and Bartlett, Madelaine E. and Lippman, Zachary B. (2017) Engineering Quantitative Trait Variation for Crop Improvement by Genome Editing. Cell, 171(2) pp. 470-80.
Soyk, Sebastian and Lemmon, Zachary H. and Oved, Matan and Fisher, Josef and Liberatore, Katie L. and Park, Soon Ju and Goren, Anna and Jiang, Ke and Ramos, Alexis and van der Knaap, Esther and Van Eck, Joyce and Zamir, Dani and Eshed, Yuval and Lippman, Zachary B. (2017) Bypassing Negative Epistasis on Yield in Tomato Imposed by a Domestication Gene. Cell, 169(6) pp. 1142-1155.
Soyk, S. and Muller, N. A. and Park, S. J. and Schmalenbach, I. and Jiang, K. and Hayama, R. and Zhang, L. and Van Eck, J. and Jimenez-Gomez, J. M. and Lippman, Z. B. (2017) Variation in the flowering gene SELF PRUNING 5G promotes day-neutrality and early yield in tomato. Nat Genet, 49(1) pp. 162-168.
Lemmon, Z. H. and Park, S. J. and Jiang, K. and Van Eck, J. and Schatz, M. C. and Lippman, Z. B. (2016) The evolution of inflorescence diversity in the nightshades and heterochrony during meristem maturation. Genome Res, 26(12) pp. 1676-1686.
Xu, C. and Liberatore, K. L. and MacAlister, C. A. and Huang, Z. and Chu, Y. H. and Jiang, K. and Brooks, C. and Ogawa-Ohnishi, M. and Xiong, G. and Pauly, M. and Van Eck, J. and Matsubayashi, Y. and van der Knaap, E. and Lippman, Z. B. (2015) A cascade of arabinosyltransferases controls shoot meristem size in tomato. Nat Genet, 47(7) pp. 784-792.
Park, S. J. and Jiang, K. and Tal, L. and Yichie, Y. and Gar, O. and Zamir, D. and Eshed, Y. and Lippman, Z. B. (2014) Optimization of crop productivity in tomato using induced mutations in the florigen pathway. Nature Genetics, 46(12) pp. 1337-1342.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository