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Prof. Dr.

Caroline Dean

Year of election: 2008
Section: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
City: Norwich
Country: Great Britain
CV Caroline Dean - Deutsch (pdf)
CV Caroline Dean - English (pdf)


Major scientific interests: Flowering time, vernalisation, natural variations, FLC expression, adaptation

Caroline Dean is a British plant biologist who decodes the mechanisms of plant flowering times. Her work focuses on molecular control of flowering time after long periods of cold and the adaptation of flowering mechanisms to changed climate conditions.

Flowering time is a matter of life and death for plants. If they flower too early, they could freeze when it gets cold again. Dean and her research group investigate molecular mechanisms that plants use to determine the right time for flowering. She works primarily on the process of vernalisation, which is the induction of flowering through exposure to cold temperatures. For flower formation to be set in motion, some plant types require a period of cold for a specific length of time. Dean and her colleagues want to find out how different climate zones and mild-weather periods during winter influence this process. They investigated thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and determined that the FLC (flowering locus C) gene suppresses the start of flowering at low temperatures. After a long period of cold temperatures, the gene then switches itself off, and the plant begins to flower.

In further studies, Dean is investigating which signal pathways control the activity of the FLC gene and natural variation in the vernalisation process. This is because the duration of the FLC gene’s flowering barrier varies in different climate zones; the gene has adapted to differing environmental conditions. Dean’s research results thus provide important insights for crop cultivation.


  • since 2002 Honorary Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK
  • 1999-2008 Associate Research Director, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • since 1988 Project Director at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
  • 1983-1988 Post-doc, Advanced Genetic Sciences, Oakland, USA
  • 1982 Ph. D. in Biology, University of York, UK
  • 1978-1979 Research assistant, University of York, UK
  • 1975-1978 Studies of Biology, University of York, UK


  • 2005-2007 Royal Society Council
  • 1999-2008 Associate Research Director of the John Innes Centre
  • 1999-2001 President of the International Society of Plant Molecular Biology

Honours and Memberships

  • 2020 Wolf Prize in Agriculture
  • 2018 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award
  • since 2008 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • since 2008 Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences
  • 2007 Genetics Society Medal
  • 2004 Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • since 2004 Fellow of the Royal Society
  • since 1999 Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
  • 1993-2002 Honorary Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia




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