Dr Juliet Coates

Dr Juliet Coates

School of Biosciences
Associate Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics

Contact details

S219, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Coates's research interests include development, evolution, plant science and cell biology - in particular understanding how plants made the transition to land and how they survived once they got there. Dr Coates has a very strong interest in supporting inclusion and diversity in research, teaching and academic processes.


PhD. University of London (University College London), UK.
"Armadillo homologues in Dictyostelium discoideum".
Funding: MRC/GlaxoSmithKline 4-year Graduate Programme.

Undergraduate degree. University of Cambridge, UK.
M.A. (Hons) Natural Sciences, Class I (Part II Zoology).


Juliet has worked with many biological systems beginning with mammalian cell cultures and Dictyostelium during undergraduate and PhD research. Her first postdoctoral position was at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge working on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying behaviour in C. elegans.

Juliet then crossed over the great evolutionary divide to become a molecular plant scientist, via an independent postdoctoral fellowship (Gatsby Charitable Foundation) at the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge. After this, she accepted a position as a lecturer (and subsequently senior lecturer) in Plant Molecular Genetics in Birmingham. She works part-time.

Juliet’s research has used Arabidopsis, moss, seaweeds tomatoes and cereals to address fundamental biological questions and this informs her teaching. 

Juliet is an advocate for inclusivity, equality and social justice. She currently embeds this into her School roles as Quality Assurance and Enhancement (QAE) lead, Access, Participation and Progression (APP) lead and Year 2 exams officer. She has previously worked as the School of Biosciences’ Equality and Diversity Champion, chaired the Biosciences Athena SWAN and Equality and Diversity committees and been a member of the University’s Athena SWAN self-assessment team. She is a member of the University’s Parents and Carers network (formerly chair of the Single Parents’ Network) and of the Enabling Staff Network and is a Rainbow Network ally.


Juliet is a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy and has received University of Birmingham Disability and Learning Support Services’ Excellent Practice Award. 

Current undergraduate teaching:

  • Level H/M year Responses to Global Environmental Change: Model plants and molecular genetics, techniques for studying plant molecular and cell biology, reading scientific papers.

  • Level M Communication and Research Skills – writing a grant proposal, careers and recruitment training (inclusion, diversity, unconscious bias).

  • Level I Plant Science: from Cell to Environment – from model plants and algae to crops; plant hormone signalling and development, plant genomics.

  • Level C Ecological Concepts and Plant Science (Module Organiser): Plant hormones and development, Plant Cell Biology, plant reproduction.

  • Level C Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology: Evolution of Multicellularity.

  • Level C Cell Biology and Physiology: The Cytoskeleton.

  • Supervision of Level H literature reviews and education projects.

  • Personal tutor Level C, I, H and M.


Juliet has overarching research interests around plant development/cell biology cell signalling, land plant evolution, and evolution of multicellular organisms more generally.

Recent projects include:

  1. SUBTOL: Translating Submergence Tolerance mechanisms from seaweeds to land plants (EU-Marie Sklowdowska Curie Fellowship with Dr Vishal Gupta; working with MSci student Bethan Soanes).

  2. Understanding MYB93 protein function in Arabidopsis and tomato (China Scholarship Council PhD project with Dr Xulyu Cao; working with MRes student Bethany Hutton and MSci student Nancy McMulkin).

  3. Understanding DELLA protein function in the moss Physcomitrium (Physcomitrella) patens (BBSRC-funded PhD project with Dr Alex Phokas; working with MSci student Panida Wadsworth).

  4. Understanding MYB93 protein function in Arabidopsis and cereals (BBSRC-funded PhD project with Dr Clare Clayton; working with MRes and MIBTP rotation student Helen Wilkinson and MIBTP rotation student Lisa King).

Ulva growth, development and applications (Islamic Development Bank-funded PhD project with Dr Fatemeh Ghaderiardakani).

Other activities

Microtubules in plants
Winning image in Science Snaps competition


Juliet was until 2016 a BBSRC Research Committee panel C core member, and formerly part of the UK Genomic Arabidopsis Resource Network (GARNet) committee (http://www.garnetcommunity.org.uk/advisers/juliet-coates)

Juliet was a Royal Society-Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow in 2013-14 (https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awards/grants/leverhulme-trust-senior-research/juliet-coates/)

Equality and Diversity

Juliet was until 2017 the School’s Equality and Diversity Champion for staff and students. She is a member of the University's Athena SWAN self-assessment team and was a member of the University of Birmingham Advancing Equality in Employment (AEiE) steering group in 2013-14. She chaired the School of Biosciences Athena SWAN working group, which recently renewed a Bronze award.

Outreach and Public Engagement

Juliet has produced scientific images as art and has won competitions (e.g. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physics/outreach/sciencesnaps/ and https://bscb.org/competitions-awardsgrants/image-competition/)

Juliet wrote a chapter for  “The New Optimists” – a popular science book, and gave an interview, “Adaptable Algae and Magic Moss”, which can be viewed at at http://newoptimists.com/2010/08/09/the-history-of-moss-and-future-of-algae/#more-1326

Juliet collaborated on Kelp Road exhibition with artist Anne Parouty and gave a radio interview about seaweed on BBCWM.

Juliet enjoys sharing her science with schools and the wider public and was a STEM ambassador for Birmingham and Solihull until 2017

Outside work, Juliet looks after her son, and when she has any energy left, gardens, swims and does yoga.



Fatemeh Ghaderiardakani, Ellen Collas, Deborah Kohn Damiano, Katherine Tagg, Neil S. Graham, Juliet C. Coates. Effects of green seaweed extract on Arabidopsis early development suggest roles for hormone signalling in plant responses to algal fertilisers. Scientific Reports(2019)9: 1983.

De Clerck O, Kao SM, Bogaert KA, Blomme J, Foflonker F, Kwantes M, Vancaester E, Vanderstraeten L, Aydogdu E, Boesger J, Califano G, Charrier B, Clewes R, Del Cortona A, D’Hondt S, Fernandez-Pozo N, Gachon CM, Hanikenne M, Latterman L, Leliaert F, Liu X, Maggs CA, Popper ZA, Raven JA, Van Bel M, Wilhelmsson PKKI, Battacharya D, Coates JC, Rensing SA, Van Der Straeten D, VArdi A, Sterck L, Vandepoele K, Van de Peer Y, Wichard T, Bothwell JH  (2018) Insights into the Evolution of Multicellularity from the Sea Lettuce Genome. Current Biology 28 (18) 2921-2933.e5

Perroud PFHaas FBHiss MUllrich KKAlboresi AAmirebrahimi MBarry KBassi RBonhomme SChen HCoates JFujita TGuyon-Debast ALang DLin JLipzen ANogué FOliver MJPonce de León IQuatrano RSRameau CReiss BReski RRicca MSaidi YSun NSzövényi PSreedasyam AGrimwood JStacey GSchmutz JRensing SA The Physcomitrella patens gene atlas project: large scale RNA-seq based expression data. Plant J (2018) doi: 10.1111/tpj.13940.

Ghaderiardakani F, Coates JC, Wichard T. Bacteria-induced morphogenesis of Ulva intestinalis and Ulva mutabilis (Chlorophyta): a contribution to the lottery theory. FEMS Microbiology Ecology (2017) 10.1093/femsec/fix094a>

Thompson SEM, Coates JC. Surface sensing and stress-signalling in Ulva and fouling diatoms - potential targets for antifouling: a review. Biofouling (2017) doi: 10.1080/08927014.2017.1319473.

CharrierB, Abreu H, Araujo R, BruhnA, CoatesJC, De Clerck O, KatsarosC, RobainaRR, Wichard T (2017) Furthering knowledge on seaweed growth and development to facilitate sustainable aquaculture. New Phytologist (2017) doi: 10.1111/nph.14728.

Charrier B, Coates JC, Stavridou I (2016) Surfing amongst Oil-Tankers: Connecting Emerging Research Fields to the Current International Landscape. Trends in Plant Science, doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.11.003.

Plackett ARG and Coates JC (2016) Life’s a beach – the colonization of the terrestrial environment. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph.14295

Coates JC (2016) Model Plants for Understanding Evolution. Encyclopaedia of Life Science, DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023749

Vesty EF, Saidi Y, Moody LA, Whitbread A, Needs S, Choudhary A, Burns B, McLeod D, Bradshaw SJ, Bach SS, Lunde C, King BC, Sorensen HT, Coates JC (2016). The decision to germinate is regulated by divergent molecular networks in spores and seeds. New Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.14018 

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

Wichard T, Charrier B, Mineur F, Bothwell JH, De Clerck O and Coates JC (2015) The green seaweed Ulva: a model system to study morphogenesis. Front. Plant Sci. 6:72. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00072

Vesty EF, Kessler RW, Wichard T and Coates JC (2015) Regulation of gametogenesis and zoosporogenesis in Ulva linza (Chlorophyta): comparison with Ulva mutabilis and potential for laboratory culture. Front. Plant Sci. 6:15. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00015

Coates JC, Umm-E-Aiman and Charrier, B (2015) Understanding “green” multicellularity: do seaweeds hold the key? Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00737

Gibbs DJ, 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, VoßU, HardingSA, FannonJ, MoodyLA, Yamada E, ChoudharyA, BradshawSJ, SwarupK, LavenusJ, Bassel GW, Nibau C, Bennett MJ, Coates JC. (2014) AtMYB93 is a novel negative regulator of lateral root initiation in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist 203 p.1194-207 

Moody LA,  Saidi Y, Smiles EJ, Bradshaw SJ, Meddings M, WinnPJ, Coates JC. (2012)
ARABIDILLO gene homologues in basal land plants:  species-specific gene duplication and likely functional redundancy.
Planta, doi 10.1007/s00425-012-1742-7

Saidi Y, Hearn TJ, Coates JC. (2012)
Function and evolution of “green” GSK3/shaggy-like kinases.
Trends in Plant Science 17 p.39-46

Coates JC, Moody LA, Saidi Y. (2011)
Plants and the earth system – past events and future challenges.
New Phytologist 189 p.370-383

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 Molecular Biology 75 p.77-92 (epub ahead of print)

Straschil U, Talman A, Ferguson DJP, Bunting KA, Xu Z, Bailes E, Sinden RE, Holder AA, Smith EF, Coates JC, Tewari R. (2010)
The armadillo repeat protein PF16 is essential for flagellar structure and function in Plasmodium male gametes
PLoS One 5 e12901
Tewari R, Bailes E, Coates JC. (2010)
Armadillo protein evolution: lessons from little creatures(Invited review)
Trends in Cell Biology 20 p.470-81

Møller IS, Gilliham M, Jha D, Mayo GM, Roy SJ, Coates JC, Haseloff J, Tester M. (2009)
Shoot Na+exclusion and increased salinity tolerance engineered by cell type-specific alteration of Na+transport in Arabidopsis.           
The Plant Cell 21 p.2163-2178

Coates JC. (2008)
Green evolution: the key to a new generation (Invited book chapter)
In: The New Optimists – a popular science book. (ed Keith Richards, Linus Publishing) p.93-96

Nibau C, Gibbs DJ, Coates JC. (2008)
Branching out in new directions: the control of root architecture by lateral root formation (Invited Tansley Review)
New Phytologist 179 p.595-614

Ubeda-Tomás S, Swarup R, Coates J, Swarup K, Laplaze L, Beemster GT, Hedden P, Bhalerao R, Bennett MJ. (2008)
Root growth in Arabidopsis requires gibberellin/DELLA signalling in the endodermis.
Nature Cell Biology 10 p.625-628

Coates JC. (2007)
Armadillo repeat proteins: versatile regulators of plant development and signaling (Invited book chapter)
In: Plant Cell Monographs 10: Plant Growth Signalling (eds Bogre L and Beemster G; Springer) p.299-314

Coates JC, Laplaze L, Haseloff J. (2006)
Armadillo-related proteins promote lateral root development in Arabidopsis.
PNAS 103 p.1621-1626

Harwood AJ, Coates JC.  (2004)
A prehistory of cell adhesion (Invited review)
Current Opinion in Cell Biology 16 p.470-476

Coates JC.  (2003)
Armadillo repeat proteins: beyond the animal kingdom (Invited review).
Trends in Cell Biology 13 p.463-471

Coates JC and deBono M. (2002)
Antagonistic pathways in neurons exposed to the body fluid regulate social feeding in C. elegans.
Nature 419 p.925-928.

Coates JC, Grimson MJ, Williams RSB, Bergman W, Blanton RL, Harwood AJ. (2002)
Loss of the b-catenin homologue aardvark causes ectopic stalk formation in Dictyostelium.
Mechanisms of Development 116 p.117-127

Coates JC, Harwood AJ. (2001)
Cell-cell adhesion and signal transduction during Dictyostelium development.
J. Cell Sci 114 p.4349-4358

Grimson MJ, Coates JC, Reynolds JP, Shipman M, Blanton RL, Harwood AJ. (2000)
Adherens junctions and b-catenin-mediated signalling in a non-metazoan organism.
Nature 408 p.727-731 (Joint first author) 

View all publications in research portal


Plants and algae: development, growth and evolution; Plant/algal responses to environment, stress and hormones; Plant cell signalling and gene regulation; Model plants and crops; Arabidopsis, tomato, moss, seaweeds, wheat, Brassica.