Professor Chris Franklin

Professor Chris Franklin

School of Biosciences
Emeritus Professor of Plant Molecular Biology

Contact details

School of Biosciences
The University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Chris Franklin is a leading expert on meiosis in plants. Work in his laboratory has made a major contribution to the understanding of how meiotic recombination is controlled in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This knowledge is currently being transferred to crop species where the ability to modify genetic recombination will help plant breeders develop the new varieties that will be needed to ensure global food security during the 21st century.


  • BSc (Hons) University of Wales (Cardiff)
  • PhD University of Wales (Cardiff)


Chris Franklin initially trained as a microbiologist at the University of Cardiff . He then worked as postdoctoral scientist in the UK, Germany and Switzerland during which time he gained experience in molecular biology and genetics. He was then appointed to the Department of Genetics (now part of the School of Biosciences) here in Birmingham. Since then he has worked in the area of plant molecular cell biology and molecular cytogenetics.


Genetics degree label leader. Teaches genetics and molecular biology in 2nd and 3rd year modules and MSc.

Postgraduate supervision

For a list of possible PhD projects offered by Prof Franklin


Research Theme within School of Biosciences: Plant Genetics and Cell Biology

Control of recombination during meiosis

Meiosis occupies a central role in the life cycles of all sexually reproducing eukaryotes. An understanding of this process is critical to furthering research on reproduction, fertility, genetics and breeding. Meiosis is a specialized form of cell-division during which a single round of DNA replication is followed by two cell-divisions thereby reducing the chromosome content from diploid to haploid. Accurate segregation of homologous chromosomes at the first meiotic division is dependent on the formation of physical connections, known as chiasmata, between homologous chromosome pairs (homologues). Chiasmata arise from homologous recombination during prophase I of meiosis and are the physical manifestation of genetic crossovers. In their absence the homologues segregate at random leading to the formation of aneuploid gametes following the separation of the sister chromatids at the second meiotic division.

The Franklin lab is using a combination of molecular cytogenetics, molecular cell biology and systems biology to elucidate the mechanisms that control the frequency and distribution of crossover events along the chromosomes using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We are particularly interested in the relationship between the proteins that modulate meiotic chromosome organization during prophase I and the recombination pathway machinery.

We are developing strategies to manipulate recombination frequency and distribution in crop species such as barley and brassica. Studies have shown that large segments ~70% of cereal chromosomes are recombinationally silent. This has a severe impact on the genetic variation available to plant breeders. Hence the aim of the work is modify recombination to free-up this variation. This work is likely to make an important contribution to efforts to ensure food security in the 21st century. Research in the lab is funded by the BBSRC and EU.

Self-incompatibility in flowering plants. I have an ongoing collaboration with Prof Noni Franklin-Tong (School of Biosciences) in the study of self-incompatibility (SI) in Papaver rhoeas. We are currently developing approaches to transfer the Papaver SI system to other plant species including the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and cereal crops to explore its potential use in the production of F1 hybrid varietie


Recent publications


Morgan, C, Zhang, H, Henry, CE, Franklin, FCH & Bomblies, K 2020, 'Derived alleles of two axis proteins affect meiotic traits in autotetraploid Arabidopsis arenosa', National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings, vol. 117, no. 16, pp. 8980-8988.

Osman, K, Yang, J, Roitinger, E, Lambing, C, Heckmann, S, Howell, E, Cuacos, M, Imre, R, Dürnberger, G, Mechtler, K, Armstrong, S & Franklin, FCH 2018, 'Affinity proteomics reveals extensive phosphorylation of the Brassica chromosome axis protein ASY1 and a network of associated proteins at prophase I of meiosis', The Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology, vol. 93, no. 1, pp. 17-33.

Chambon, A, West, A, Vezon, D, Horlow, C, De Muyt, A, Chelysheva, L, Ronceret, A, Darbyshire, A, Osman, K, Heckmann, S, Franklin, FCH & Grelon, M 2018, 'Identification of ASYNAPTIC4, a Component of the Meiotic Chromosome Axis', PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, vol. 178, no. 1, pp. 233-246.

Lloyd, A, Morgan, C, H Franklin, FC & Bomblies, K 2018, 'Plasticity of Meiotic Recombination Rates in Response to Temperature in Arabidopsis', Genetics, vol. 208, no. 4, pp. 1409-1420.

Martinez-Garcia, M, Schubert, V, Osman, K, Darbyshire, A, Sanchez-Moran, E & Franklin, FCH 2018, 'TOPII and chromosome movement help remove interlocks between entangled chromosomes during meiosis', Journal of Cell Biology, vol. 217, no. 12, pp. 4070-4079.

Eaves, DJ, Haque, T, Tudor, RL, Barron, Y, Zampronio, CG, Cotton, NPJ, de Graaf, BHJ, White, SA, Cooper, H, Franklin, FCH, Harper, JF & Franklin-Tong, VE 2017, 'Identification of Phosphorylation Sites Altering Pollen Soluble Inorganic Pyrophosphatase Activity', PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, vol. 173, no. 3, pp. 1606-1616.

Chai, L, Tudor, RL, Poulter, NS, Wilkins, KA, Eaves, DJ, Franklin, FCH & Franklin-tong, VE 2017, 'MAP Kinase PrMPK9-1 Contributes to the Self-Incompatibility Response', PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, vol. 174, no. 2, pp. 1226-1237.

Ziolkowski, PA, Underwood, CJ, Lambing, C, Martinez-Garcia, M, Lawrence, EJ, Ziolkowska, L, Griffin, C, Choi, K, Franklin, C, Martienssen, RA & Henderson, I 2017, 'Natural variation and dosage of the HEI10 meiotic E3 ligase control Arabidopsis crossover recombination', Genes & Development, vol. 31, pp. 306-317.

Colas, I, Macaulay, M, Higgins, JD, Phillips, D, Barakate, A, Posch, M, Armstrong, SJ, Franklin, FCH, Halpin, C, Waugh, R & Ramsay, L 2016, 'A spontaneous mutation in MutL-Homolog 3 (HvMLH3) affects synapsis and crossover resolution in the barley desynaptic mutant des10', New Phytologist, vol. 212, no. 3, pp. 693–707.

Bomblies, K, Jones, G, Franklin, FC, Zickler, D & Kleckner, N 2016, 'The challenge of evolving stable polyploidy: could an increase in "crossover interference distance" play a central role?', Chromosoma, vol. 125, no. 2, pp. 287-300.

Lambing, C, Osman, K, Nuntasoontorn, K, West, A, Higgins, JD, Copenhaver, GP, Yang, J, Armstrong, SJ, Mechtler, K, Roitinger, E & Franklin, FCH 2015, 'Arabidopsis PCH2 mediates meiotic chromosome remodeling and maturation of crossovers', PLoS Genetics, vol. 11, no. 7, e1005372.

Cuacos, M, H. Franklin, FC & Heckmann, S 2015, 'Atypical centromeres in plants—what they can tell us', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 6, 913.

Ziolkowski, PA, Berchowitz, LE, Lambing, C, Yelina, NE, Zhao, X, Kelly, KA, Choi, K, Ziolkowska, L, June, V, Sanchez-Moran, E, Franklin, C, Copenhaver, GP & Henderson, IR 2015, 'Juxtaposition of heterozygous and homozygous regions causes reciprocal crossover remodelling via interference during Arabidopsis meiosis', Elife, vol. 4, e03708.

Maheshwari, S, Tan, EH, West, A, Franklin, FCH, Comai, L & Chan, SWL 2015, 'Naturallyoccurring differences in cenh3 affect chromosome segregation in zygotic mitosis of hybrids', PLoS Genetics, vol. 11, no. 1, e1004970.

Review article

Lambing, C, Franklin, FCH & Wang, C-JR 2017, 'Understanding and Manipulating Meiotic Recombination in Plants', PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, vol. 173, no. 3, pp. 1530-1542.

View all publications in research portal