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Focus on early plant embryogenesis

A complete understanding of plant embryogenesis is of particular interest to the agriculture, food and biomass industries to improve yield and increase profit. However, this is a complex endeavour as several disciplines, including genomics and proteomics, need to be integrated to obtain comprehensive information.
Focus on early plant embryogenesis
The EU-funded 'Signals and regulatory networks in early plant embryogenesis' (SIREN) project performed a comprehensive and systematic study of early plant embryogenesis. Researchers worked on developing techniques to understand associated signalling and regulatory networks and to develop representative models of the development process.

SIREN members achieved several breakthroughs. To begin with, novel technologies and methodologies were successfully developed or adapted for this study. The automated high-throughput–in situ hybridisation (HT–ISH) of plant embryos is one such particular accomplishment.

Tools developed within the project period were employed to obtain cell type-specific gene expression profiles and to study their transcriptional regulation. Researchers were thus able to identify key cell fate regulators but modelling of the regulatory network was hampered by its complexity.

Besides enhancing our understanding of early plant embryogenesis, the project provided invaluable multidisciplinary training for several early-stage researchers. Seminars, technical workshops and presentations were also organised to develop their skills and further their career prospects.

Project outcomes were published in several high-profile journals. SIREN's HT–ISH method could also be used to analyse cultured cells or tissues of animals, expanding the scope of potential research applications. This should attract more research investment for the development of plant and animal hybrids with desired properties and specifications.

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