Tai-ping Sun

Professor of Biology

3104 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 613-8166
The diterpenoid phytohormone gibberellin (GA) plays pivotal roles in regulating growth and development throughout the life cycle of higher plants. Mutations affecting GA biosynthesis or GA response were the key to control plant stature in wheat and rice that led to dramatically increased grain yield and contributed greatly to the success of the ‘Green Revolution’ in the 1960s. Although the GA biosynthetic pathway had been characterized biochemically, little was known about the sites of GA production and the mode of GA action. By multi-faceted approaches using the model system Arabidopsis, my lab has made major breakthroughs in revealing the sites and regulatory mechanisms of GA biosynthesis. We also elucidated the conserved molecular events of GA perception and the early GA signaling pathway. We identified the nuclear transcriptional regulators DELLA proteins, which function as master growth repressors by inhibiting all aspects of GA responses. Binding of GA to its nuclear receptor GID1 enhances the GID1-DELLA interaction, which in turn leads to the rapid proteolysis of DELLA through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, and allows transcriptional reprogramming of GA-responsive genes. We and other researchers further showed that GA-GID1-DELLA is a key regulatory module that controls plant growth by integrating internal developmental cues, and external biotic and abiotic signals (light, cold, salt and pathogen stresses). Surprisingly, we recently found that DELLA directly interacts with multiple classes of key regulatory proteins in other signaling pathways. Our work is revealing the complex regulatory network between the GA pathway and other pathways to control plant growth and development.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1987

  • B.S., National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) 1980

Zentella, Rodolfo, Jianhong Hu, Wen-Ping Hsieh, Peter A. Matsumoto, Andrew Dawdy, Benjamin Barnhill, Harriëtte Oldenhof, et al. “O-GlcNAcylation of master growth repressor DELLA by SECRET AGENT modulates multiple signaling pathways in Arabidopsis.Genes Dev 30, no. 2 (January 15, 2016): 164–76. https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.270587.115. Full Text Open Access Copy

Acheampong, Atiako Kwame, Jianhong Hu, Ariel Rotman, Chuanlin Zheng, Tamar Halaly, Yumiko Takebayashi, Yusuke Jikumaru, et al. “Functional characterization and developmental expression profiling of gibberellin signalling components in Vitis vinifera.Journal of Experimental Botany 66, no. 5 (March 2015): 1463–76. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/eru504. Full Text

Sun, Tai-ping. “Plant Science. Sex and the single fern.Science (New York, N.Y.) 346, no. 6208 (October 2014): 423–24. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1260948. Full Text

Gallego-Giraldo, C., J. Hu, C. Urbez, M. D. Gomez, T. -. P. Sun, and M. A. Perez-Amador. “Role of the gibberellin receptors GID1 during fruit-set in Arabidopsis.” Plant Journal, 2014.

Bai, Ming-Yi, Jian-Xiu Shang, Eunkyoo Oh, Min Fan, Yang Bai, Rodolfo Zentella, Tai-Ping Sun, and Zhi-Yong Wang. “Brassinosteroid, gibberellin and phytochrome impinge on a common transcription module in Arabidopsis.Nature Cell Biology 14, no. 8 (August 2012): 810–17. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncb2546. Full Text

Yang, Dong-Lei, Jian Yao, Chuan-Sheng Mei, Xiao-Hong Tong, Long-Jun Zeng, Qun Li, Lang-Tao Xiao, et al. “Plant hormone jasmonate prioritizes defense over growth by interfering with gibberellin signaling cascade.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, no. 19 (May 2012): E1192–1200. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1201616109. Full Text

Miyamoto, Takafumi, Robert DeRose, Allison Suarez, Tasuku Ueno, Melinda Chen, Tai-ping Sun, Michael J. Wolfgang, Chandrani Mukherjee, David J. Meyers, and Takanari Inoue. “Rapid and orthogonal logic gating with a gibberellin-induced dimerization system.Nature Chemical Biology 8, no. 5 (March 25, 2012): 465–70. https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.922. Full Text

Dayan, Jonathan, Nickolay Voronin, Fan Gong, Tai-ping Sun, Peter Hedden, Hillel Fromm, and Roni Aloni. “Leaf-induced gibberellin signaling is essential for internode elongation, cambial activity, and fiber differentiation in tobacco stems.The Plant Cell 24, no. 1 (January 17, 2012): 66–79. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.111.093096. Full Text

Chapman, Elisabeth J., Kathleen Greenham, Cristina Castillejo, Ryan Sartor, Agniezska Bialy, Tai-Ping Sun, and Mark Estelle. “Hypocotyl transcriptome reveals auxin regulation of growth-promoting genes through GA-dependent and -independent pathways.Plos One 7, no. 5 (January 2012): e36210. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036210. Full Text


Selected Grants

Regulation of DELLA Activity by Post-Translational Modifications and Complex Formation in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2013

Gibberellin Signaling and Parthenocarpic Fruit Development awarded by Department of Agriculture (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2013

Molecular Mechanism of Giberellin Signalling Repression by the DELLA protein RGA in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2011

Developmental and Light Regulation of the Gibberellin 3B-Hydroxylase Genes in Arabidopsis awarded by Department of Agriculture (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2007

Analysis of gibberellin signal transduction pathway in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2007

Regulation of the Gibberellin Biosynthetic Genes GA1 and GA2 in Arabidopsis awarded by Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2002

Functional Analysis of RGA, A Negative Regulator of Gibberellin Signaling in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1998 to 2002

Regulatory Mechanisms of Gibberellin Biosynthesis and Response in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 2002

Cloning and Characterization of a New Locus RGA Involved in Gibberellin Signal Transduction in Arabidopsis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2000

Regulatory Mechanisms of Gibberellin Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis awarded by Department of Agriculture (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1999