nikolov's picture
Luke Nikolov
Phone: 310-794-4963
Office: 4018 Terasaki Life Sciences Building
Lab: 4021 Terasaki Life Sciences Building


B.A., Harvard University, Biochemical Sciences 2008
Ph.D., Harvard University, Biology 2013

Research Interests

To attract pollinating animals, plants display an elaborate array of color, form, and scent?but the ultimate reward for the pollinators is nectar, a complex sugary liquid with distinct composition across species. Nectar is produced in nectaries, secretory structures with diverse organization broadly distributed in plants. We are working to understand the developmental basis of nectary formation and nectar production. Using comparative genetics and genomic tools, the Nikolov Lab is identifying genes that control how and where the nectaries are built, and the mechanisms responsible for nectar synthesis and secretion. These findings will provide insight into a plant-animal mutualism important to agriculture and bee health, and will stimulate future applications to increase crop yield by enhancing the ecosystem services of pollinators.

Selected Publications

Nikolov, L.A., A. Runions, M. Das Gupta, and M. Tsiantis, "Leaf development and evolution", In: Current Topics in Developmental Biology 131: 109-139 (2019). [link]

Nikolov, L.A., P. Shushkov, B. Nevado, D. Filatov, C.D. Bailey, and M. Tsiantis, "Resolving the backbone of the Brassicaceae phylogeny for investigating trait diversity", New Phytologist 222 (3): 1638-1651 (2019). [link]

Nikolov, Lachezar A., "Brassicaceae flowers: diversity amid uniformity", Journal of Experimental Botany 70 (10): 2623-2635 (2019). [link]

Nikolov, L.A., and C. Davis, "The big, the bad, and the beautiful: biology of the world?s largest flowers", Journal of Systematics and Evolution 55: 516-524 (2017). [link]

Nikolov, L.A., and M. Tsiantis, "Using mustard genomes to explore the genetic basis of evolutionary change", Current opinion in plant biology 36: 119-128 (2017). [link]

Gan, X., A. Hay, M. Kwantes, G. Haberer, A. Hallab, R. Dello Ioio, H. Hofhuis, B. Pieper, M. Cartolano, U. Neumann, L.A. Nikolov, B. Song, M. Hajheidari, R. Briskine, E. Kougioumoutzi, D. Vlad, S. Broholm, J. Hein, K. Meksem, D. Lightfoot, K.K. Shimizu, R. Shimizu-Inatsugi, M. Imprialou, D. Kurdna, R. Wing, S. Sato, P. Huijser, D. Filatov, K. Mayer, R. Mott, and M. Tsiantis, "The Cardamine hirsuta genome highlights the pervasive role of transcription factors and tandem gene duplications in morphological diversity", Nature Plants 2: (2016).

Nikolov, L.A., and M. Tsiantis, "Interspecies gene transfer as a method for understanding the genetic basis of evolutionary change: progress, pitfalls, and prospects", Frontiers in Plant Science 6: (2015).

Nikolov, L.A., P.B. Tomlinson, M. Sugumaran, P.K. Endress, E.M. Kramer, and C. Davis, "Rafflesiaceae possess the most reduced endophyte yet give rise to the world?s largest flowers", Annals of Botany 114: 233-242 (2014).

Nikolov, L.A., Y.M. Staedler, M. Sugumaran, J. Schonenberger, P.K. Endress, E.M. Kramer, and C. Davis, "Floral structure and development in Rafflesiaceae with emphasis on their exceptional gynoecia", American Journal of Botany 101: 225-243 (2014).

Zhang, W., V.W. Steinmann, L. Nikolov, E.M. Kramer, and C. Davis, "Divergent genetic mechanisms underlie reversals to radial floral symmetry from diverse zygomorphic flowered ancestors", Frontiers in Plant Science 4: (2013).

Nikolov, L.A., P.K. Endress, M. Sugumaran, S. Sasirat, S. Vessabutr, E.M. Kramer, and C. Davis, "Developmental origins of the world's largest flowers, Rafflesiaceae", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 18578-18583 (2013). [link]

Schmalisch, M., E. Maiques, L. Nikolov, A.H. Camp, B. Chevreux, A. Muffler, S. Rodriguez, J. Perkins, and R. Losick, "Small genes under sporulation control in the Bacillus subtilis genome", Journal of Bacteriology 192: 5402-5412 (2010).