Dr Daniel Gibbs BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr Daniel Gibbs

School of Biosciences
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Gibbs' group studies how plants use targeted protein degradation as a mechanism for sensing and transducing signals, with a particular focus on the N-end rule pathway of the ubiquitin proteasome system.  The group uses a range of genetic, cell biology and biochemical approaches to uncover new functions for this pathway in the control of growth, development and stress responsiveness.  Current projects - funded by the ERC and BBSRC - are investigating links between protein N-terminal acetylation and degradation, and exploring how N-end rule control of chromatin modifying proteins regulates the epigenome in response to the environment.  



  • 2004 - BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics), University of Birmingham
  • 2005 – MSc Applied Genetics, University of Birmingham
  • 2009 – PhD Plant molecular biology, University of Birmingham


After completing his undergraduate and master’s studies at the University of Birmingham, Daniel stayed on to complete a PhD with Dr Juliet Coates, where he investigated the proteolytic control of key regulators of root branching in Arabidopsis. In 2009 he moved to the lab of Prof. Michael Holdsworth at the University of Nottingham, where he studied the role of the N-end rule pathway of protein degradation during plant development. This work led to the discovery of the importance of this pathway for the perception of oxygen in plants. In 2012 he was awarded and independent Nottingham Advanced Research Fellowship to develop his research independence, and in October 2013 he returned to the University of Birmingham to establish his own research group.


Dr Gibbs teaches and assesses on second year (BIO237, BIO268) and third year (BIO398) courses, and is also an undergraduate tutor. He lectures on plant development and plant-environment interactions, with a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms underpinning plant growth and stress responses, as well as how basic research can be used for crop improvement through traditional breeding and genetic engineering approaches.   

He also supervises final year undergraduate project students as well as MSci, MSc and MRes students in his lab.  


Research in Dr Gibbs' lab utilises molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to investigate how plants use targeted protein degradation as a mechanism for sensing and responding to diverse developmental and environmental signals.  The general aim of our work is to increase our understanding of how plants develop and respond to the environment, and to identify promising targets that can be manipulated in agriculturally important crops to improve growth, productivity and stress tolerance.

Proteins are major functional components of cells, and the regulation of their turnover is essential for controlling cellular responses and developmental outputs.  In plants, targeted proteolysis has important roles in sensing and coordinating responses to internal developmental cues (e.g. phytohormones, such as auxin) and environmental signals (e.g. oxygen availability).  The "N-end rule pathway" is an ancient and highly evolutionarily conserved proteolytic system that targets proteins for destruction based on the nature of their N-terminus (the beginning of the protein). 

In previous work carried out in the lab of Prof. Michael Holdsworth (University of Nottingham), plant-specific ERFVII transcription factors were identified as the first physiological targets of the N-end rule pathway in plants (Gibbs et al. 2011 Nature). They were shown to mediate plant perception and response to low oxygen stress (hypoxia), a situation that frequently occurs during (Gibbs et al. 2011 Nature). This is the first example of a direct molecular mechanism for oxygen sensing in plants, and represents a major breakthrough for the future development of flood-tolerant crops, a key focus for food security.  The same pathway was also shown to mediate perception and transduction of nitric oxide (NO), an important developmental signaling molecule in plants (Gibbs et al., 2014 Molecular Cell). This highlights the importance of N-end rule-mediated protein degradation in plants, and our ongoing studies suggest that the N-end rule plays a key role in a wide range of other developmental and physiological processes.

Current research is focused on characterizing novel ‘branches’ and protein substrates of the N-end rule pathway in Arabidopsis, with a particular focus on linking the control of protein stability to agriculturally important developmental processes and abiotic stress responses. This includes analysing the relationship between N-terminal protein acetylation and turnover of proteins, as well as characterising a role for the N-end rule in regulating the epigenome through contolling the stability of a key chromatin modifying complex. We are especially keen on linking the control of protein stability via this pathway to agriculturally important developmental processes and abiotic stress responses.

Other activities



  • Member of the International Society of Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA)
  • Recipient of the 2013 ISPA “Outstanding Scientist” award, presented at the 11th international ISPA conference, held at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines.


Please see Dr Gibbs’ lab website and Google Scholar profile

Meitha K, Agudelo-Romero P, Signorelli S, Gibbs DJ, Considine JA, Foyer CH, Considine MJ (2018Developmental control of hypoxia during bud burst in grapevine. Plant, Cell and Environment. doi: 10.1111/pce.13141

Dissmeyer N, Graciet E, Holdsworth MJ, Gibbs DJ (2018) N-term 2017: Proteostasis via the N-terminus.  Trends in Biochemical Sciences doi.org/10.1016/j.tibs.2017.11.006

Zhang H, Gannon L, Hassall, KL, Deery M., Gibbs DJ, Holdsworth MJ, van der Hoorn RAL, Lilley KS, Theodoulou FL. (2017) N-terminomics reveals control of Arabidopsis seed storage proteins and proteases by the Arg/N-end rule pathwayNew Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.14909

Considine MJ, Diaz-Vivancoz P, Kerchev P, Signorelli S, Agudelo-Romero P, Gibbs DJ, Foyer CH (2017) Learning to breathe: Developmental Phase transitions in oxygen statusTrends in Plant science DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2016.11.013

Gibbs DJ, Bailey M, Tedds HM, Holdsworth MJ (2016) From start to finish: amino-terminal protein modifications as degradation signals in plants. New Phytologist.DOI: 10.1111/nph.14105

Moody LA, Saidi Y, Gibbs DJ, Choudhary A, Holloway D, Vesty EF, Bansal KK, Bradshaw SJ, Coates JC (2016) An ancient and conserved function for Armadillo-related proteins in the control of spore and seed germination by abscisic acidNew Phytologist.DOI:10.1111/nph.13938

Gibbs DJ (2015) Emerging functions for N-terminal protein acetylation in plants. Trends in Plant Science.DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2015.08.008

Abbas M, Berckhan S, Rooney DJ, Gibbs DJ, Vicente Conde J, Sousa Correia C, Bassel GW, Marín-de la Rosa N, León J, Alabadí D, Blázquez MA and Holdsworth MJ (2015) Oxygen sensing coordinates photomorphogenesis to facilitate seedling survivalCurrent Biology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.03.060  

Gibbs DJ*, Vicente Conde J, Berckhan S, Mendiondo GM, Prasad G and Holdsworth MJ* (2015) Group VII Ethylene Response Factors coordinate oxygen and nitric oxide signal transduction and stress responses in plants. Plant Physiology. DOI:10.1104/pp.15.00338 *corresponding authors 

Mendiondo G, Gibbs DJ, Szurman-Zubrzycka M, Korn A, Marquez J, Szarejko I, Maluszynski M, King J, Axcell B, Smart K, Corbineau F, Holdsworth MJ (2015) Enhanced waterlogging tolerance in barley by manipulation of expression of the N-end rule pathway E3 ligase PROTEOLYSIS6. Plant Biotechnology Journal. DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12334

Marín-de la Rosa N, Sotillo B, Miskolczi P, Gibbs DJ, Vicente-Condo J, Carbonero P, Oñate-Sánchez  L, Holdsworth MJ, Bhalerao R, Alabadí D, Blázquez MA (2014) Large-scale identification of gibberellin-related transcription factors defines Group VII ERFs as functional DELLA partners. Plant Physiology. DOI:10.1104/pp.114.244723

Gibbs DJ and Coates JC (2014) AtMYB93 is an endodermis-specific transcriptional regulator of lateral root development in Arabidopsis. Plant Signalling and Behaviour. DOI:10.4161/psb.29808 

Gibbs DJ*, Bacardit J, Bachmair A, Holdsworth MJ* (2014) The eukaryotic N-end rule pathway: conserved mechanisms and diverse functions. Trends in Cell Biology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2014.05.001. *co-corresponding author

Gibbs DJ, Isa NM, Movahedi M, Lozano-Juste J, Mendiondo GM, Berckhan S, Marín-de la Rosa N, Vicente Conde J, Sousa Correia C, Pearce, SP, Bassel GW, Hamali B, Talloji P, Tomé DFA, Coego A, Beynon J, Alabadí D, Bachmair A, León J, Gray JE, Theodoulou FL, Holdsworth MJ (2014) Nitric oxide sensing in plants is mediated by proteolytic control of Group VII ERF transcription factorsMolecular Cell, 10.1016/j.molcel.2013.12.020

Gibbs DJ, Voss U, Harding SA, Fannon J, Moody LA, Yamada E, Swarup K, Nibau C, Bassel GW, Choudhary A, Lavenus J, Bradshaw SJ, Stekel DJ, Bennett MJ, Coates JC (2014) AtMYB93 is a novel negative regulator of lateral root development in ArabidopsisNew Phytologist. DOI: 10.1111/nph.12879.

Bassel GW, Stamm P, Mosca G, Barbier de Reuille P, Gibbs DJ, Winter RM, Janka A, Holdsworth MJ, Smith RS (2014)Mechanical constraints imposed by 3D cellular geometry and arrangement modulate growth patterns in the Arabidopsis embryoProc Natl Acad Sci USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404616111

Bailey-Serres J, Fukao T, Gibbs DJ, Holdsworth MJ, Lee SC, Licausi F, Perata P, Voesenek LA, van Dongen JT (2012) Making sense of low oxygen sensing. Trends Plant Sci.17(3):129-38

Gibbs DJ, Lee SC, Isa NM, Gramuglia S, Fukao T, Bassel GW, Correia CS, Corbineau F, Theodoulou FL, Bailey-Serres J, Holdsworth MJ (2011) Homeostatic response to hypoxia is regulated by the N-end rule pathway in plants. Nature479(7373):415-8.

Bassel GW, Lan H, Glaab E, Gibbs DJ, Gerjets T, Krasnogor N, Bonner AJ, Holdsworth MJ, Provart NJ (2011) Genome-wide network model capturing seed germination reveals coordinated regulation of plant cellular phase transitions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108(23):9709-14

Nibau C, Gibbs DJ, Bunting KA, Moody LA, Smiles EJ, Tubby JA, Bradshaw SJ, Coates JC (2011) ARABIDILLO proteins have a novel and conserved domain structure important for the regulation of their stability. Plant Mol Biol. 75(1-2):77-92.

Nibau C*, Gibbs DJ*, Coates JC (2008) Branching out in new directions: the control of root architecture by lateral root formation. New Phytol179(3):595-614. *Joint first author.

View all publications in research portal