Prof. Sebastian Soyk

Sebastian Soyk received his PhD in 2013 from the ETH Zürich after carrying out his doctoral thesis in the group of Dr. Samuel Zeeman at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences. He then became a European Molecular Biology Organization post-doctoral fellow at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the group of Zachary Lippman. In August 2019 he joined the Center for Integrative Genomics at the University of Lausanne as a Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor supported by a European Research Council Starting Grant. He joined the Department for Plant Molecular Biology in February 2023 as Tenure-track Assistant Professor.

Development, stem cells, domestication, gene editing, tomato

Research summary

Our research aims at understanding the genetic mechanisms that regulate flowering and flower production in plants, and the underlying developmental processes were shaped during crop domestication and breeding. More specifically, we study the development of inflorescences, the flower-bearing shoots, which arise when small groups of pluripotent stem cells at the growing tips cease the production of vegetative organs and transition to reproductive growth. The rate in which stem cells transition and differentiate finely balances vegetative and reproductive growth for optimized flower, fruit, and seed production. Many genes and gene variants that affect stem cell development were targets of selection during domestication and have potential in crop improvement. However, their effects often differ when introduced into disparate genetic backgrounds due to interactions with genetic modifiers. We use approaches in molecular genetics, genomics, and biochemistry to reveal and dissect signaling pathways and genetic interactions that regulate stem cell development in the model crop tomato, and advance our ability to fine-tune shoot and inflorescence architecture for optimized yields in tomato and other crops.

Representative publications

Alonge, M., Lebeigle, L., Kirsche, M., Aganezov, S., Wang, X., Lippman, Z.B., Schatz, M.C.+, Soyk, S.+ (2022). Automated assembly scaffolding using RagTag elevates a new tomato system for high-throughput genome editing. Genome Biology 23, 258.

Gaarslev, N., Swinnen, Soyk, S. (2021). Meristem transitions and plant architecture - learning from domestication for crop breeding. Plant Physiology 187(3):1045-1056.

Soyk, S.*, Lemmon, Z.H.*, Oved, M., Fisher, J., Liberatore, K.L., Park, S., Pistunov, A., Zemach, I., Jiang, K., Ramos, A., Van Eck, J., van der Knaap, E., Zamir, D., Eshed, Y., and Lippman, Z.B. (2017). Bypassing negative epistasis on yield in tomato imposed by a domestication gene. Cell 169(6): 1142-1155.

Soyk, S., Muller, N.A., Park, S.J., Schmalenbach, I., Jiang, K., Hayama, R., Zhang, L., Van Eck, J., Jimenez-Gomez, J.M., and Lippman, Z.B. (2017). Variation in the flowering gene SELF PRUNING 5G promotes day-neutrality and early yield in tomato. Nature Genetics 49, 162–168.


+corresponding author
*equally contributing author




Sebastian Soyk

University of Lausanne
UNIL Sorge
Biophore Building
CH-1015 Lausanne

Tél: +41-21-692-4232