Brian Ayre | BioDiscovery Institute

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Brian Ayre

Office: LSC B318; Tel: 940-565-2975

Ayre Laboratory Webpage
Brian Ayre, PhD. has a B.Sc. in Genetics, Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, postdoctoral experiences at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, and Cornell University, and conducted a sabbatical at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology. At UNT, his research revolves around the phloem transport system and how it functions as a whole-plant communication network to enable disparate organs to function as an integrated, complete organism.
Research in Dr. Ayre's lab revolves around the phloem transport system of plants and how it functions as a whole-plant communication network to enable disparate organs to function as an integrated complete organism. Within this broad context, there are projects in two main areas: 1) The role of the phloem in coordinating carbon metabolism and nutrient utilization between photosynthetic source leaves and heterotrophic sink organs and 2) the role of the phloem in transporting signaling molecules from leaves to growing tissues to mediate source control of sink growth and development. Together, these trajectories contribute to our understanding of how plants control yield, biomass partitioning, and growth patterns on a whole-plant level. The Ayre lab approaches their questions with modern tools in biochemistry, molecular biology and plant biotechnology, but always retain sight of the whole organism in our answers.


  • We study how manipulation of sucrose transporters and metabolic engineering of mobile sugars can contribute to carbon partitioning throughout the plant and potentially enhance productivity.
  • We are interested in how altered biomass partitioning can be lead to increased levels of bio-products.
  • We study how increased carbon supply from source leaves affects requirements for other essential nutrients, and how homeostasis between carbon and essential nutrients is maintained.
  • We use virus-based technologies to efficiently study genes that contribute to architectural patterns of vegetative, reproductive (i.e., fruiting) and branching growth in cotton and sorghum.


  • Ayre BG, McGarry RC, Eshed-Williams L (Hebrew University), van der Knaap E (University of Georgia). Elucidating and manipulating the CLAVATA-WUSCHEL circuit in cotton to understand meristem homeostasis in relation to fruit size and shape. United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund. AWARDED $310,000 Sept 2019 - Sept 2022.
  • Ayre BG. Unraveling the link between carbohydrate transport and phosphate use: Can we improve carbon partitioning and reduce nutrient use? National Science Foundation, Directorate for Biological Sciences, Integrative Organismal Systems. AWARDED $564,315, Mar 2016 - Mar 2020.
  • Ayre BG, McGarry RC. Redesigning the cotton plant's architecture to improve yield and quality. Cotton Incorporated: National Program. AWARDED $460,000, Jan 2010 - Jan 2020 (Renewed annually at ~$50,000).
  • Ayre BG. Development of "Virus-Induced Flowering" (VIF) to benefit breeding among wild and domesticated photoperiodic accession of sorghum. United Sorghum Checkoff Board. AWARDED $225,000 May 2015 - May 2018.

REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS (Full list at Google Scholar):

  1. Yadav UP, Shaikh MA, Evers J, Regmi KC, Gaxiola RA, Ayre BG (2019) Assessing Long-Distance Carbon Partitioning from Photosynthetic Source Leaves to Heterotrophic Sink Organs with Photoassimilated [14C]CO2. In J. Liesche (Ed) Phloem: Methods and Protocols. Methods Mol Biol vol. 2014, Chapter 19, pg 223-233. Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9562-2_19
  2. Prewitt SF, Ayre BG, McGarry RC (2018) Cotton CENTRORADIALIS / TERMINAL FLOWER 1 / SELF-PRUNING genes functionally diverge to differentially impact architecture. Journal of Experimental Botany 69:5403-5417. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery324
  3. Ayre BG, Turgeon R (2018) Export of Photosynthates from the Leaf. In W.W. Adams III and I. Terashima (Eds) The Leaf: A Platform for Performing Photosynthesis. Series: Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration Including Bioenergy and Related Processes, vol. 44, Chapter 3, pg 55-79. Springer International Publishing AG, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-93594-2_3
  4. McGarry RC, Klocko AL, Pang M, Strauss SH, Ayre BG (2017) Virus-induced flowering: An application of reproductive biology to benefit plant research and breeding. Plant Physiology 173: 47-55, doi:10.1104/pp.16.01336.
  5. McGarry RC, Prewitt SF, Culpepper S, Eshed Y, Lifschitz E, Ayre BG (2016) Monopodial and sympodial branching architecture in cotton is differentially regulated by the Gossypium hirsutum SINGLE FLOWER TRUSS and SELF-PRUNING orthologs. New Phytologist; 212: 244-258, doi: 10.1111/nph.14037.
  6. Khadilkar AS, Yadav UP, Salazar C, Shulaev V, Paez-Valencia J, Pizzio GA, Gaxiola RA, Ayre BG (2016) Constitutive and companion cell-specific overexpression of AVP1, encoding a proton-pumping pyrophosphatase, enhances biomass accumulation, phloem loading and long-distance transport. Plant Physiology; 170: 401-414. doi: 10.1104/pp.15.01409.
  7. Yadav UP, Ayre BG, Bush DR (2015) Transgenic approaches to altering carbon and nitrogen partitioning in whole plants: Assessing the potential to improve crop yields and nutritional quality. Frontiers in Plant Science 66: 275 (1-13). doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00275.
  8. Pizzio GA, Paez-Valencia J, Khadilkar AS, Regmi K, Patron-Soberano A, Zhang S, Sanchez-Lares J, Furstenau T, Li J, Sanchez-Gomez C, Valencia-Mayoral P, Yadav UP, Ayre BG, Gaxiola RA (2015) Arabidopsis type I proton-pumping pyrophosphatase expresses strongly in phloem, where it is required for pyrophosphate metabolism and photosynthate partitioning. Plant Physiology167: 1541-1553. doi: 10.1104/ pp.114.254342.
  9. Lifschitz E, Ayre BG, Eshed Y (2014) Florigen and anti-florigen - a systemic mechanism for coordinating growth and termination in flowering plants.Frontiers in Plant Science 5:465 (pg. 1-14) doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00465.
  10. Dasgupta K, Khadilkar AS, Sulpice R, Pant B, Scheible W-R, Fisahn J, Stitt M, Ayre BG (2014). Expression of sucrose transporter cDNAs specifically in companion cells enhances phloem loading and long-distance transport of sucrose but leads to an inhibition of growth and the perception of a phosphate limitation. Plant Physiology 165, 715-731. doi:10.1104/pp.114.238410.

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