Brian Ayre | BioDiscovery Institute

Brian Ayre


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 manipulate genes encoding proteins that energize the phloem network, such as proton pumps and those contributing to glycolysis, to boost transport and growth in recipient tissues.
  • 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.


  • National Science Foundation, Directorate for Biological Sciences, Integrative Organismal Systems. Unraveling the link between carbohydrate transport and phosphate use: Can we improve carbon partitioning and reduce nutrient use? (PI B.G. Ayre). $564,315. 3/1/16-2/28/19.
  • United Sorghum Checkoff Board. Development of "Virus-Induced Flowering" (VIF) to benefit breeding among wild and domesticated photoperiodic accession of sorghum. (PI B.G. Ayre). $225,000. 5/1/15-4/30/18.
  • Cotton Incorporated: National Program. Understanding the role of phosphatidylethanolamine binding protein family members in cotton and their application to enhance growth habit as an annual row crop. (PI B.G. Ayre). $320,000. 1/1/2010-12-31-2016. (renewed annually at ~$50,000 per calendar year).
  • National Science Foundation, Directorate for Biological Sciences, Integrative Organismal Systems Collaborative Research. Integrating two different roles of the proton-pumping pyrophosphatase in the regulation and efficiency of carbon utilization and transport in planta. (PI B.G. Ayre). $760,000. (UNT Budget $380,000). 12/1/12-12/31/16.


  1. McGarry, R.C., Prewitt, S.F., Culpepper, S., Eshed, Y., Lifschitz, E., Ayre, B.G. (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.
  2. Khadilkar, A.S., Yadav, U.P., Salazar, C., Shulaev, V., Paez-Valencia, J., Pizzio, G.A., Gaxiola, R.A., Ayre, B.G. (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 140: 401-414 DOI: 10.1104/pp.15.01409.
  3. Yadav, U.P., Ayre, B.G., Bush, D.R. (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 6: 275 (12 pages) DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00275.
  4. Pizzio, G.A., Paez-Valencia, J., Khadilkar, A.S., Regmi, K., Patron-Soberano, A., Zhang, S., Sanchez-Lares, J., Furstenau, T., Li, J., Sanchez-Gomez, C., Valencia-Mayoral, P., Yadav, U.P., Ayre, B.G., Gaxiola, R.A. (2015). Arabidopsis type I proton-pumping pyrophosphatase expresses strongly in phloem, where it is required for pyrophosphate metabolism and photosynthate partitioning. Plant Physiology 167: 1541-1553. DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.254342.
  5. Dasgupta, K., Khadilkar, A.S., Sulpice, R., Pant, B., Scheible, W-R., Fisahn, J., Stitt, M., Ayre, B.G. (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.
  6. Cao, T., Lahiri, I., Singh, V., Louis, J., Shah, J., Ayre, B.G. (2013). Metabolic engineering of raffinose-family oligosaccharides in the phloem reveals alterations in carbon partitioning and enhances resistance to green peach aphid. Frontiers in Plant Science 4: 263. DOI:10.3389/fpls.2013.00263.
  7. Gaxiola, R.A., Sanchez, C.A., Paez-Valencia, J., Ayre, B.G., Elser, J.J. (2012). Genetic manipulation of a "vacuolar" H+-PPase: From salt tolerance to yield enhancement under phosphorus-deficient soils. Plant Physiology 159: 3-11. DOI: 10.1104/pp.112.195701.
  8. McGarry, R.C., Ayre, B.G. (2012). Geminivirus-mediated delivery of florigen promotes determinate growth in aerial organs and uncouples flowering from photoperiod in cotton. PLoS One 7: e36746 (10 pages) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036746.
  9. Zhang, C., Yu, X., Ayre, B.G., Turgeon, R. (2012). The origin and composition of cucurbit phloem exudate. Plant Physiology 158: 1873-82. doi: 10.1104/pp.112.194431.
  10. Ayre, B.G. (2011). Membrane-transport systems for sucrose in relation to whole-plant carbon partitioning. Molecular Plant 4: 377-394. DOI: 10.1093/mp/ssr014.

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