The main objective of PLANTORIGINS-ITN is to improve career prospects of young researchers in the growing field of plant evolutionary developmental biology through a programme of research, training and transfer of knowledge that integrates new discoveries and approaches in the fields of plant morphology, systematics, and developmental genetics with the overall goal of understanding the origins of form in plants. Much research in plant evolutionary developmental biology focuses on comparatively modern groups within the flowering plants, especially on economically important crops. But, as the field develops, it is becoming increasingly important and feasible to extend the scope of research to address questions of a fundamental nature in plants. The overarching and long term scientific question of PLANTORIGINS-ITN is: how did the major tissues and organ systems of plants evolve and what is their genetic regulatory basis? PLANTORIGINS-ITN brings together into a cohesive network a group of eight leading academic and industrial partners to provide unique state of the art training in these key areas. Because of the highly multidisciplinary nature of this network, transfer of knowledge within and between sectors is given high priority in our training programme. We regard this as fundamental to fostering the development and exploitation of research in this field. Our two industrial partners contribute state of the art analytical skills in the area of gene expression (microarray technology) and complementary business skills in the area of intellectual property rights and will provide valuable direction and feedback. The skills and competencies developed by the eight young researchers that we will train are directly transferable to the plant biotechnology sector, which is recognised as a strategically important industry that makes a key contribution to Europe's agricultural competitiveness, sustainable development and economic growth.
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