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Identification and characterization of genes and promoter elements involved in the regulation of seed germination


Seed biology is crucial to improve the nutritional value of agronomically important seeds. While seed development has been extensively studied, very little is known about the process by which the embryo emerges from the seed to complete germination. This project is aimed to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control germination by identifying and characterizing key regulatory genes and conserved promoter cis-elements. Data from global gene expression analysis (micro-arrays) in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana will be analysed to identify genes induced specifically upon germination and putatively involved in different key aspects of germination. For selected genes we will isolate the promoters of their orthologous genes in other plant species from within and outside the Brasicaceae family.

We will compare those promoters and perform in silico analysis to identify conserved motifs, which will be strong candidates to be functionally important cis-sequences. Identified sequences will be characterized in vivo and those being transcriptionally active will be used in a yeast one-hybrid screening with a normalized expression library containing approx. 75% of Arabidopsis transcription factors (TFs). The identified TFs will be subjected to functional analysis using reverse genetic approaches. The results from this research will abound in the complex mechanisms underlying seed germination and possibly in other intimately linked seed processes such as seed development and dormancy. The knowledge generated may benefit the crop industry by helping enhance plant fitness and by providing valuable molecular markers to use in marker- assisted breeding.

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Ramiro De Maeztu, Nº7