David Baulcombe is a bioscientist with a diverse interest in plant biology. David is credited with the discovery and characterisation of an RNA silencing system that protects plants against viruses. This system also affects the patterns of plant gene expression.
In some instances, these changes in gene expression can be passed on from one generation of plants to the next without having changed the DNA sequence. This type of change is referred to as ‘epigenetic’ and protects the genome against selfish DNA, helps plants adapt to a changing environment and may explain why hybrid plants are not like their parental plants in all respects.
David’s current research includes projects on hybrid tomatoes and on evolution in an alga. He is also genetically engineering maize to resist a lethal disease that is a problem in Kenya and nearby regions of Africa. As a sporadic contributor to Twitter, David disseminates information about his team’s work and his views on world events as diverse as genetically modified crops, Ebola and the benefits of exercise.
Head of Department, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Plant sciences / botany
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology