Christoph Gehring

Professor Emeritus, Bioscience

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division


Education Profile

  • ​​​​​Ph.D., University of London, U.K., 1981
  • Diploma, University of Basel, Switzerland, 1977

Research Interests

Professor Gehring is interested in discovering how plants perceive and signal environmental stimuli, process this information and mount both short-term and long-term responses at the systems level to ensure optimal growth and development. Within his program, Gehring has identified three specific topic areas. The first topic area is the elucidation of the biological role and mechanisms of action of Plant Natriuretic Peptides (PNPs). PNPs are a novel class of systemically mobile molecules that cause rapid physiological changes in response to drought and salinity stress as well as pathogen attacks. The changes include tissue specific changes in ion flux and changes in photosynthetic efficiency that are accompanied by changes at the level of the transcriptome and the proteome.

The second project is centred around the cellular second messenger guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) and the cGMP-synthesising enzymes, the guanylyl cyclases (GCs). It is becoming increasingly clear that both cGMP and GCs have a crucial role to play in plant stress signaling and responses given that a number of receptor molecules (e.g., the Arabidopsis thaliana Brassinosteroid receptor AtBRI1) have been shown to contain functional GC domains. In addition, it is noteworthy that catalytic GC domains are often associated with other functional enzymatic domains (e.g., kinases) suggesting intramolecular regulation and cross-talk critical to signal transduction not just in plants but also bacteria and lower and higher eukaryotes.

The third project is focused on the analysis of plant stress responses at the systems level. To achieve this goal, Professor Gehring and his team work with computational tools that support the systems analyses of gene expression in wild type and mutants, co-expression and promoter content and show how an integrated use of these tools can yield significant and novel insights into the biological role of genes and proteins.

Selected Publications

  • Sharkhuu, A., Narasimhan, M.L., Merzaban, J., Bressan, R.A., Weller, S. and Gehring, C. A red and far-red light receptor mutation confers resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. Plant J. (2014) (in press) doi: 10.1111/tpj.12513.
  • Thomas, L., Marondedze, C., Ederli, L., Pasqualini, S. and Gehring, C. Proteomic signatures implicate cAMP in light and temperature responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. J. Proteomics (2013), 83, 47-59.
  • Marondedze, C., Turek, I., Parrott, B., Thomas, L., Jankovic, B., Lilley, K.S. and Gehring, C. Structural and functional characteristics of cGMP-dependent methionine oxidation in Arabidopsis thaliana proteins. Cell Commun. Signal. (2013), 11, 1.
  • Mulaudzi, T., Ludidi, N., Ruzvidzo, O. Morse, M., Hendricks, N., Iwuoha, E. and Gehring, C. Identification of a novel Arabidopsis thaliana nitric oxide-binding molecule with guanylyl cyclase activity in vitro. FEBS Lett. (2011), 585, 2693-2697.
  • Kwezi, L., Ruzvidzo, O., Wheeler, J.I., Govender, K., Iacuone, S., Thompson, P.E., Gehring, C. and Irving, H.R. The phytosulfokine (PSK) receptor is capable of guanylyl cyclase activity and enabling cGMP-dependent signalling in plants. J. Biol. Chem. (2011), 286,22580-22588.
  • Qi, Z., Verma, R., Gehring, C., Yamaguchi, Y., Zhao, Y., Ryan, C.A. and Berkowitz, G.A. Ca2+ signaling by plant Arabidopsis thaliana Pep peptides depends on AtPepR1, a receptor with guanylyl cyclase activity, and cGMP activated Ca2+ channels. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2010), 107, 21193 - 21198.​