• Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari

Tel :+390649912337
Fax :+390649912500

Istitute of Molecular Biology and Pathology - National Research Council
Department of Biology and Biotecnology - Charles Darwin
Sapienza University of Rome - Istituto Fisiologia Generale Piano seminterrato stanza 10 - P. le A.Moro 5 00185 Roma

We are interested in the regulation of gene expression, which we address in the plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. We developed a strong experience in a specific class of homeodomain-type of transcription factors, HD-Zip II, whose expression is regulated by changes in the quality of the light environment. Specifically, the ratio of Red-to-Far Red components in the light environment is perceived by the photoreceptors phytochromes and can turn on the so-called shade avoidance response when this ratio is low. Recent findings, however, have demonstrated that these factors are key regulators in several aspects of  plant development, possibly through the modulation of hormonal levels, though which the plant adapts its architecture according to a mutable environment.

Our ongoing projects involve:

1- the role of HD-Zip II class transcription factors in plant organ development, specifically leaf, flower and root.

2- the role of HD-Zip II class transcription factors in the control of seed germination.

3- applications from the model system Arabidopsis thaliana to the modulation of the shade avoidance response and plant architecture in crops.

Carabelli M, Turchi L, Morelli G, Østergaard L, Ruberti I, Moubayidin L. Coordination of biradial-to-radial symmetry and tissue polarity by HD-ZIP II proteins. (2021). Nat Commun 12, 4321.

Tognacca RS, Carabelli M, Morelli G, Ruberti I, Botto JF. ATHB2 is a negative regulator of germination in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. (2021). Sci Rep 11, 12879 (2021).

Sessa G, Carabelli M, Possenti M, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Multiple links between HD-Zip proteins and hormone networks. (2018). INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 12, 4047.

Sessa G, Carabelli M, Possenti M, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Multiple pathways in the control of the shade avoidance response. (2018). PLANTS-BASEL 4, 102.

Carabelli M, Possenti M, Sessa G, Ruzza V, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Arabidopsis HD-Zip II proteins regulate the exit from proliferation during leaf development in canopy shade. (2018). JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 22.

Carabelli M, Turchi L, Ruzza V, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Homeodomain-Leucine zipper II family of transcription factors to the limelight: Central regulators of plant development. (2013). PLANT SIGNALING & BEHAVIOR, 9.

Ciolfi A, Sessa G, Sassi M, Possenti M, Salvucci S, Carabelli M, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Dynamics of the shade-avoidance response in Arabidopsis (2013). Plant Physiol. 163(1): 331-53.

Turchi L,  Carabelli M,  Ruzza V, Possenti  M, Sassi M, Peñalosa  A, Sessa G, Salvi S, Forte V, Morelli G, Ruberti I. Arabidopsis HD-Zip II transcription factors control apical embryo development and meristem function. (2013). Development, 140(10):2118-29.

Ruberti I, Sessa G, Ciolfi A, Possenti M, Carabelli M, Morelli G. Plant adaptation to dynamically changing environment: the shade avoidance response. (2012).  Biotechnol Adv. 30(5):1047-58.

Ciarbelli AR, Ciolfi A, Salvucci S, Ruzza V, Possenti M, Carabelli M, Fruscalzo A, Sessa G, Morelli G, Ruberti I. (2008). The Arabidopsis homeodomain-leucine zipper II gene family: diversity and redundancy. Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 68 (4-5); p. 465-478
Carabelli M, Possenti M, Sessa G, Ciolfi A, Sassi M, Morelli G, Ruberti, I. (2008). A novel regulatory circuit underlying plant response to canopy shade. Plant Signalling & Behavior, 3.
Carabelli M, Possenti M, Sessa G, Ciolfi A, Sassi M, Morelli G, Ruberti I. (2007). Canopy shade causes a rapid and transient arrest in leaf development through auxin-induced cytokinin oxidase activity. Genes & Development, 21; p. 1863-1868
Sessa G, Carabelli M, Sassi M, Ciolfi A, Possenti M, Mittempergher F, Becker J, Morelli G, Ruberti I (2005). A dynamic balance between gene activation and repression regulates the shade avoidance response in Arabidopsis. Genes & Development, vol. 19(23); p. 2811-2815
Morelli G, Baima S, Carabelli M, Di Cristina M, Lucchetti S, Sessa G, Steindler C, Ruberti I. (1998). Homeodomain-leucine zipper proteins in the control of plant growth and development. In: Last R, Lo Schiavo F, Morelli G, RAIKEL N. EDS. NATO ASI Series, Cellular Integration of Signalling Pathways in Plant Development.
Steindler C, Carabelli M, Borello U, Morelli G, Ruberti I. (1997). Phytochrome A, phytochrome B and other phytochrome(s) regulate ATHB-2 gene expression in etiolated and green Arabidopsis plants. Plant, Cell and Environment, vol. 20; p. 759-763.
Carabelli M, Morelli G, Whitelam G, Ruberti I. (1996). Twilight-zone and canopy shade induction of the Athb-2 homeobox gene in green plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 93(8); p. 3530-3535
Aoyama T, Dong CH, Wu Y, Carabelli M, Sessa G, Ruberti I, Morelli G, Chua NH. (1995). Ectopic expression of the Arabidopsis transcriptional activator Athb-1 alters leaf cell fate in tobacco. Plant Cell, vol. 7(11); p. 1773-1785
Carabelli M, Sessa G, Baima S, Morelli G, Ruberti I. (1993). The Arabidopsis Athb-2 and -4 genes are strongly induced by far-red-rich light. Plant Journal, vol. 4(3); p. 469-479,
Ida Ruberti, Giovanna Sessa – IBPM-CNR, Roma
Marco Possenti, Giorgio Morelli – CREA, Centro di ricerca Alimenti e Nutrizione, Roma.
Laila Moubayidin, Lars Ostergaard – John Innes Centre, Norwich, Regno Unito.
Rocio Tognacca, Javier Botto – CONICET - Università di Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Monica Carabelli has achieved the Master Degree in Biological Sciences in 1993, at the University of Rome La Sapienza. Has been research fellow at the Centro di Studio per gli Acidi Nucleici of CNR, Rome from 1993 to 1996, in the laboratory of Dr. Ida Ruberti. At this time, she has achieved the qualification for the profession of biologist. She has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Rockefeller University, New York, USA, from 1996 to 1999, with the direction of Prof. Nam-Hai Chua. In 1999, the CNR has recognized her research activity abroad to be equivalent to the PhD title for internal contests. Subsequently, she has been a contractor for research activity at the National Institute for Nutrition, Rome, in 1999. In 2000, was recipient of a short-term EMBO fellowship at the Max-Plank-Institut for Plant Development in Cologne, Germany. Since 2000, she is exerting research activity first at the Centro di Studio per gli Acidi Nucleici of the CNR, later at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology of CNR, Nucleic Acid Laboratory, Rome, starting as a contractor and subsequently as researcher. In actual time, she is a researcher at the Istitute of Molecular Biology and Pathology of CNR, Nucleic Acid Laboratory, Rome.


1993: Award for best experimental thesis in the field of pasteurian disciplines of the “Foundation Instuitute Pasteur-Foundation Cenci-Bolognetti”  

1997: 1997 SIBBM Award for the best 1996 publication in the field of Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

1998: Member of the Italian Society of Biochemistry.

1999: Member of the Italian Society of Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

2005: 2005 SIGA award for best poster presented at the XLIX Annual Congress of the  Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics.