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

Dill, Alyssa, Stephen G. Thomas, Jianhong Hu, Camille M. Steber, and Tai-Ping Sun. “The Arabidopsis F-box protein SLEEPY1 targets gibberellin signaling repressors for gibberellin-induced degradation.The Plant Cell 16, no. 6 (June 2004): 1392–1405. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.020958. Full Text

Sun, Tai-Ping, and Frank Gubler. “Molecular mechanism of gibberellin signaling in plants.Annual Review of Plant Biology 55 (January 2004): 197–223. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.arplant.55.031903.141753. Full Text

Dill, A., S. G. Thomas, J. Hu, C. M. Steber, and T. -. P. Sun. “The Arabidopsis F-Box Protein SLEEPY1 Targets GA Signaling Repressors for GA-Induced Degradation.” Plant Cell 16 (2004): 1392–1405.

Fleet, Christine M., Shinjiro Yamaguchi, Atsushi Hanada, Hiroshi Kawaide, Charles J. David, Yuji Kamiya, and Tai-Ping Sun. “Overexpression of AtCPS and AtKS in Arabidopsis confers increased ent-kaurene production but no increase in bioactive gibberellins.Plant Physiology 132, no. 2 (June 2003): 830–39. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.103.021725. Full Text

McGinnis, Karen M., Stephen G. Thomas, Jonathan D. Soule, Lucia C. Strader, Janice M. Zale, Tai-ping Sun, and Camille M. Steber. “The Arabidopsis SLEEPY1 gene encodes a putative F-box subunit of an SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase.The Plant Cell 15, no. 5 (May 2003): 1120–30. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.010827. Full Text

McGinnis, T. -. P., K. M, K. Thomas, S. G, S. Soule, J. D, J. Stader, et al. “The GA-response gene SLEEPY1 (SLY1) is a putative F-box subunit of an SCF E3 ubiquitin ligase.” Plant Cell 15 (2003): 1120–30.

Olszewski, Neil, Tai-Ping Sun, and Frank Gubler. “Gibberellin signaling: biosynthesis, catabolism, and response pathways.The Plant Cell 14 Suppl (January 2002): S61–80. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.010476. Full Text

Dill, A., H. S. Jung, and T. P. Sun. “The DELLA motif is essential for gibberellin-induced degradation of RGA.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98, no. 24 (November 2001): 14162–67. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.251534098. Full Text

Yamaguchi, S., Y. Kamiya, and T. Sun. “Distinct cell-specific expression patterns of early and late gibberellin biosynthetic genes during Arabidopsis seed germination.The Plant Journal : For Cell and Molecular Biology 28, no. 4 (November 2001): 443–53. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.01168.x. Full Text