Dr. Tesfamichael Kebrom is a Research Scientist in the Center for Computational Systems Biology (Roy G. Perry College of Engineering) and the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center (College of Agriculture and Human Sciences). He has educational background in plant sciences ranging from the molecular basis of plant functions to whole plant physiology, and principles and theories of plant community interactions at the field level. He also has established research track record in molecular plant physiology and plant systems biology.
For over the past ten years, Dr. Kebrom investigated the development of plant shoot architecture and its regulation by environmental and endogenous signals. Through this work, he has made several discoveries, including the molecular link between the light signal receptor phytochrome B (phyB) and the expression of teosinte branched1 (tb1) gene in axillary buds to regulate shoot branching in plants (Kebrom et al., 2006 Plant Physiology 140: 1109-1117). Recently, he identified sugars as major factors determining shoot branching and proposed a theory to explain the phenomenon of apical dominance (Kebrom et al 2012, Plant Physiology 160: 308-318; Kebrom 2017, Frontiers in Plant Science 8:1874). During apical dominance, the plant hormone auxin synthesized in the shoot tip inhibits shoot branching; and removal of the shoot tip promotes shoot branching. According to the theory proposed by Dr. Kebrom, Auxin from the shoot tip enhances the growth of the stem in the main shoot and a growing stem, which is a strong sink for sugars, inhibits the growth of shoot branches indirectly by limiting availability of sugars necessary for their growth. Using a systems biology approaches, he identified transcriptome dynamics associated with growth and dormancy of axillary buds (initials for shoot branches) (Kebrom and Mullet Plant Physiology 170: 2232 – 2250), and growth of stems in plants (Kebrom et al 2017 Biotechnology for Biofuels 10:159).
Dr. Kebrom’s research interest focus on identifying gene regulatory networks and molecular pathways controlling plant growth and development in response to environmental and endogenous factors using plant systems biology approaches, and developing strategies for improving crop yield and tolerance to abiotic stress such as reduced light, water, and plant nutrients.