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Daniel Adriaan Weits

Faculty and Affiliate Scientists

  • BIO

I studied molecular biology and plant biology at the University of Utrecht. During my Bsc and Msc education, I carried out two internships at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP) in Potsdam Germany. Having piqued my interest in oxygen sensing, I then choose this topic for my PhD dissertation which I defended in 2015 at the Scuola Sant’Anna of advanced studies and the MPIMP in a collaborative binational PhD. Afterwards I was a Postdoctoral researcher at the RWTH Aachen University in the group of Prof. Joost van Dongen. From 2018 I continue my research activities as an Assistant Professor in plant physiology at the Scuola Sant’Anna of advanced studies.

  • D.A. Weits et al., An apical hypoxic niche sets the pace of shoot meristem activity. Nature 569: 714–717 (2019)
  • D.A. Weits et al., Molecular oxygen as a signaling component in plant development. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.16424 (2020)
  • D.A. Weits et al., Plant cysteine oxidases control the oxygen-dependent branch of the N-end-rule pathway. Nature Communications. 5: 3425 (2014)
  • L. Kerpen et al., Hypoxic Conditions in Crown Galls Induce Plant Anaerobic Responses That Support Tumor Proliferation. Front. Plant Sci. 10, 56 (2019).
  • F. Licausi, F. et al., Oxygen sensing in plants is mediated by an N-end rule pathway for protein destabilization. Nature 479, 419–22 (2011).

Plants experience reduced oxygen availability as a consequence of flooding stress, but they curiously also maintain low oxygen conditions in meristem niches. To detect changes in the oxygen concentration in their tissues, plants (and animals) employ cysteine dioxygenases that regulate proteins initiating with a Methionine-Cysteine in an oxygen-dependent manner. In this manner, substrates of this pathway are stabilized locally in hypoxic meristems where they direct differentiation and the production of new organs. My research interests are to unravel how spatial differences in oxygen levels directs plant development and to further investigate how cysteine oxidases sense dynamic changes in the oxygen concentration.