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.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announces exclusive license with plant breeding start-up Inari
April 16, 2019
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) announced today an exclusive licensing agreement with partner Inari, a company that is advancing plant breeding by tapping nature’s genetic diversity. The technology developed by CSHL Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Zachary Lippman allows Inari to tailor plant architecture and other traits in...
To protect stem cells, plants have diverse genetic backup plans
April 15, 2019
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Despite evolution driving a wide variety of differences, many plants function the same way. Now a new study has revealed the different genetic strategies various flowering plant species use to achieve the same status quo. In flowering plants, stem cells are critical for survival. Influenced by environmental factors, stem cells...
The year of CRISPR
December 26, 2018
It’s hard to have missed the acronym CRISPR this year! Headlines in the news have heralded game changing possibilities in biomedicine. Controversy and debate continue to sizzle worldwide among scientists and policymakers over the ethical implications of gene editing in humans. At Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), though, CRISPR isn’t just about headlines. It is...
CRISPR could bring groundcherries to market
October 1, 2018
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Most people have never tasted a groundcherry; the small, sweet relative of the tomato that plant biologist Zachary Lippman describes as “tropically intoxicating.” That’s because the groundcherry plant, with its long, straggly branches and sporadically ripening fruit, is unsuitable for large-scale agriculture. For now, the treat is reserved for people...
A science writer’s quest to understand heredity
May 30, 2018
LabDish Blog At this very moment, there is more Neanderthal DNA on Earth than there was when Neanderthals were alive. Bits of their DNA, inherited tens of thousands of years ago, persist in many of our genomes today. This astounding legacy is one of many revelations that renowned science writer Carl Zimmer uses to burst...
Prof. Zachary Lippman named Blavatnik Award finalist
May 30, 2018
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor and Jacob Goldfield Professor of Genetics Zachary Lippman has been selected as a Finalist in Life Sciences for the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards. The Blavatnik National Awards honor outstanding scientists under the age of 42 in the fields of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering. “This award...
CSHL’s Zachary Lippman named HHMI Investigator
May 23, 2018
Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Zachary Lippman, Ph.D, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor and Jacob Goldfield Professor of Genetics, has been selected to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. Dr. Lippman is among 19 other scientists who have just received this distinction. HHMI also announced that it will invest $200 million...
One experiment: Twice the tomatoes
March 22, 2018
Those plump red fruits aren’t the only sweets spots of a tomato plant. The branches have them too. When breeding plants to produce more fruit, “you want to be in a sweet spot” in terms of branching because “plants have to be balanced in their growth,” says Professor Zachary Lippman. That two-pronged plant on the...
Plant geneticists develop a new application of CRISPR to break yield barriers in crops
September 14, 2017
Mutating regulatory regions varies yield traits the way a dimmer switch controls a light bulb Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have harnessed the untapped power of genome editing to improve agricultural crops. Using tomato as an example, they have mobilized CRISPR/Cas9 technology to rapidly generate variants of the...
Public Lecture: THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND PLANTS – “It’s complicated”
September 8, 2017
THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND PLANTS: ✓ It’s complicated David Jackson, Ph.D. – Professor, CSHL Zachary Lippman, Ph.D. – Professor, CSHL Doreen Ware, Ph.D. – Adjunct Associate Professor, CSHL & USDA Agricultural Research Service RSVP HERE
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
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