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Systems Biology to understand Plant Architecture

Objective

Extensive feedback between gene expression state and the cellular environment yields tangled hierarchies . This lack of strictly hierarchical control mechanisms poses a challenge to developmental biologists: the outcome of interaction networks with extensive feedbacks is not intuitive and must be analyzed with analytical tools. Here, I propose a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches to study control mechanisms of plant architecture and their emergent properties. The plant hormone auxin appears to be a major player in developmental patterning and architecture. We and others have shown previously that auxin distribution patterns can self-organize and elaborate different architectures by principles of self-organization. We have discovered that the PLETHORA transcription factors, which form instructive gradients during root development, are involved in early embryo and shoot development as well, and that they constitute a principal component of plant development. Excitingly, PLETHORA genes are regulated by auxin accumulation but they feed back on the most important actors that determine auxin distribution, the PIN proteins. The dynamics of this PLETHORA-PIN loop can display emergent properties that may explain the majority of principal patterning events that determine root and shoot specification as well as branching. Here, I propose to investigate this feedback system in detail using (1) molecular genetic approaches, (2) computer modelling and (3) functional genomics approaches. The projected outcomes are a deep understanding of major control mechanisms for tissue pattern and organismal architecture and general insights into genetic information encoding using tangled hierarchies.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins

Call for proposal

ERC-2008-AdG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
Address
Droevendaalsesteeg 4
6708 PB Wageningen
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 258 354,80
Principal investigator
Ben J.G. Scheres (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Peter Van Beem

Beneficiaries (2)

WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 258 354,80
Address
Droevendaalsesteeg 4
6708 PB Wageningen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Ben J.G. Scheres (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Peter Van Beem
UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT

Participation ended

Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 1 981 645,20
Address
Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Astrid Haijma (Ms.)