Ive De Smet Lab

Research focus

Research in our lab is focused on unravelling phosphorylation-related signaling mechanisms associated with plant growth and development under abiotic stress conditions.

Uncovering the mechanisms by which abiotic stress is perceived, identifying key response components and exposing how this impacts on growth and differentiation processes during development remains a major challenge for plant biologists and for crop improvement. To fully understand this biological process, we need to identify novel components and require insight in the underlying signalling network. In the past, Arabidopsis research has mainly focused on transcriptional changes (Long et al. 2008 Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol 24:81); but, there is an urgent need to gain insight in protein changes on different levels, including protein-protein interactions and post-translational protein modifications. With respect to the latter, temporary and reversible phosphorylation of proteins is essential in regulating intra-cellular biological processes. While the knowledge on post-translational regulation through transient phosphorylation in plants is growing because of its crucial importance in plant molecular networks, it remains an underexplored and challenging area (Nakagami et al. 2012 Plant Cell Physiol 53:118; Bond et al. 2011 Phytochemistry 72:975; Kline-Jonakin et al. 2011 Curr Opin Plant Biol 14:507). In Arabidopsis and major crop species phosphorylation is controlled by a large number of protein kinases and phosphatase complexes (plantsp.genomics.purdue.edu/family/class.html; Dissmeyer and Schnittger 2011 Methods Mol Biol 779:7; Marshall et al. 2012 Plant Cell 24:2262). However, for the majority of cytoplasmic kinases, membrane-associated receptor kinases and phosphatases unraveling physiological and developmental roles and identifying substrates remains a challenge.

We apply a gel-free phospho-proteomics pipeline to different biological systems (Vu, Stes et al. 2016 J Proteome Res): liquid Arabidopsis seedling cultures or Arabidopsis and monocot organs (such as leaves or roots from wheat or corn). We combine these systems with loss- and gain-of-function approaches and specific stimuli to perform an untargeted mass spectrometric analysis of the phosphoproteome (Vu, Stes et al, 2016). To confirm the importance of key differentially phosphorylated proteins (ideally hubs controlling major switches in physiological and developmental processes) in a biological process, candidates are functionally characterized using kinase assays and phospho-specific antibodies to demonstrate functionality and in vivo phosphorylation, respectively, complemented with loss- and gain-of-function approaches and detailed analyses of expression/localization patterns.


Proteome Profiling of Wheat Shoots from Different CultivarsVu L Verstraeten I Stes E Van Bel M Coppens F Gevaert K* De Smet I*Frontiers in Plant Science, 8, 332, 2017* or °: authors contributed equally
PP2A-3 interacts with ACR4 and regulates formative cell division in the Arabidopsis rootYue K* Sandal P* Williams E* Murphy E Stes E Nikonorova N Ramakrishna P Czyzewicz N Montero-Morales L Kumpf R Lin Z Van De Cotte B Iqbal M Van Bel M Van De Slijke E Meyer M Gadeyne A Zipfel C De Jaeger G Van Montagu M Van Damme D Gevaert K Rao A* Beeckman T* De Smet I*PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 113, 1447-52, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally
CEP5 and XIP1/CEPR1 regulate lateral root initiation in ArabidopsisRoberts I* Smith S* Stes E De Rybel B Staes A Van De Cotte B Njo M Dedeyne L Demol H Lavenus J Audenaert D Gevaert K Beeckman T* De Smet I*JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 67, 4889-99, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally
RALFL34 regulates formative cell divisions in Arabidopsis pericycle during lateral root initiationMurphy E Vu Lam Dai Van den Broeck Lisa Lin Zongcheng Ramakrishna P Van de Cotte Brigitte Gaudinier A Goh T. Slane D Beeckman Tom Inzé Dirk Brady S Fukaki H De Smet IveJOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 67, 4863-75, 2016
Up-to-Date Workflow for Plant (Phospho)proteomics Identifies Differential Drought-Responsive Phosphorylation Events in Maize LeavesVu L* Stes E* Van Bel M Nelissen H Maddelein D Inzé D Coppens F Martens L Gevaert K* De Smet I*JOURNAL OF PROTEOME RESEARCH, 15, 4304-4317, 2016* or °: authors contributed equally

Job openings


FFAR Grant to USDA-ARS Bolsters Soybean Resiliency to Climate Change

22/07/2019 - Scientists from USDA-ARS , NCSA & team of Ive De Smet (VIB-UGent) will use advanced machine learning algorithms to leverage natural genetic diversity of plants and improve sustainability, nutrition & flavor profiles of crops with greater precision.

Knowing how cells grow and divide can lead to more robust and productive plants

11/04/2019 - The labs of Ive De Smet and Tom Beeckman (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology), together with researchers from the UK, Germany and Denmark identified a novel component that controls the development of root branches supporting plants.

Historical paintings help scientists to better understand plant evolution and ecology

17/11/2017 - David Vergauwen and Ive De Smet now launch a crowd sourcing campaign to collect depictions of plants in historical paintings and other art objects. You can help by sending in your pictures when travelling or visiting a museum.

Plant peptides: keys to understanding plant growth and stress responses

14/01/2017 - New research has shed light on what peptides mean for plants – not only in their growth and development, but also in how they regulate their reactions to stressors such as drought, heat and pathogens.

VIB research on plant peptides in the limelight: Special Issue of JXB 'Plant Peptides – Taking them to the next level'

18/08/2016 - In a Special Issue of Journal of Experimental Botany, edited by Barbara De Coninck (VIB-KU Leuven) and Ive De Smet (VIB-UGent), plant peptides take central stage.

VIB researchers uncover new mechanism controlling plant root development

19/01/2016 - “Discovering a new interaction partner of ACR4 is exciting because we now have more insight in the action mechanism of this important plant growth regulator.”

Ive De Smet

Ive De Smet

Research area(s)

Model organism(s)


​PhD: University of Leeds, UK & Ghent University, Belgium, '06
Postdoc: Max Planck Institue for Developmental Biology, Germany, '06-'10
Postdoc: Ghent University/VIB, Belgium, '10
Group leader at VIB since May 2013

Contact Info

VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems BiologyUGent-VIB Research Building FSVMTechnologiepark 71 9052 GENTRoute description