Daan Weits receives the ISPA 2019 Award

Since his undergrad studies, Daan provided significant contribution to the identification of the N-degron regulation imposed on ERF-VII transcription factors to control the molecular response to hypoxia in plants. Later on, as a PhD student, Daan endeavoured to characterize the oxidation of ERF-VII in an oxygen dependent manner, identifying the enzymes responsible for this process: the plant cysteine oxidases (PCO). Thanks to Daan’s work PCOs may now be considered as oxygen sensing proteins that regulate the switch of molecular hypoxic responses in plants.
Very recently, Daan has shown that plant stem cells located in the shoot meristem are naturally embedded in a low oxygen niche. Daan’s skills with confocal microscopy, his curiosity and has allowed our team to precisely measure oxygen concentrations at the micrometer scale of the meristem. Moreover, Daan has also been able to show that low oxygen availability is maintained in the shoot meristem to regulate meristem activity through the stabilization of a novel N-degron substrate: the little zipper protein ZPR2. This finding shows that oxygen acts as a signalling molecule to regulate stem cell activity in plants, similarly to what has been observed in animals (Weits et al. 2019, Nature; provisionally accepted). In the light of the achievements listed above, I believe that Daan Weits is a valuable candidate to be listed as the Outstanding Scientists in the field of plant anaerobiosis.
Francesco Licausi

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Prof Bailey-Serres hands over the ISPA 2019 Award to Dr Daan Weits