Brian Ayre | BioDiscovery Institute

Brian Ayre


Brian Ayre 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 has conducted sabbaticals at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. 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 lead to increased levels of bio-products.
  • We study growth regulating genes in vascular cambia and apical meristems to understand and manipulate developmental patterns important to crop value.
  • We use virus-based technologies to efficiently study genes that contribute to architectural patterns of vegetative, reproductive (i.e., fruiting) and branching growth in agricultural crops.

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  • Ayre BG, McGarry RC, and Shah J. Generating pathogen- and pest-resistant non-GMO cotton through targeted genome editing of oxylipin signaling pathways. USDA NIFA AFRI Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE). Jan 2021 - Jan 2024 ($294,000).
  • Ayre BG, McGarry RC. Pest- and pathogen-resistant cotton through gene editing. Cotton Incorporated National Program. Jan 2022 - Jan 2024 (Renewed annually at ~$25,000/yr).
  • Ayre BG, McGarry RC. Redesigning the cotton plant's architecture to improve yield and quality. Cotton Incorporated National Program. Jan 2010 - Jan 2024 (Renewed annually at ~$25,000 to $50,000/yr).
  • A Laser Microdissection System to Enhance Agricultural and Food Research in the North Texas and Southern Oklahoma Region. United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Equipment Grants Program (USDA NIFA EGP). Brian G. Ayre (PI), Roisin C. McGarry, Vanessa M. Macias, Patrick J. Horn, and Jyoti Shah. $341,019
  • 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. Sept 2019 - June 2023 ($310,000).


  1. McGarry RC, Kaur H, Lin Y-T, Puc GL, Eshed Williams L, van der Knaap E, and Ayre BG. (2023) Altered expression of self-pruning disrupts homeostasis and facilitates signal delivery to meristems. Plant Physiology.
  2. Yadav UP, Evers JF, Shaikh MA, and Ayre BG. (2022) Cotton phloem loads from the apoplast using a single member of its nine-member sucrose transporter gene family. Journal of Experimental Botany 73: 848-859.
  3. McGarry RC and Ayre BG. (2021) Cotton architecture: Examining the roles of single flower truss and self-pruning in regulating growth habits of a woody perennial crop. Current Opinion Plant Biology 59: 101968.
  4. McGarry RC, Rao X, Li Q, van der Knaap E, and Ayre BG. (2020) Single flower truss and self-pruning signal developmental and metabolic networks to guide cotton architectures. Journal of Experimental Botany 71: 5911-5923.
  5. Ayre BG, El-Gebaly FE, and McGarry RC. (2020) Virus-induced flowering-a tool for cereals. Journal of Experimental Botany 71: 2839-2841.
  6. 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: Liesche, J. (eds) Phloem. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2014. Humana, New York, NY.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.