The proposal presented here combines a series of training objectives that are specifically suited for the candidate fellow with a cutting-edge scientific study. The study aims to investigate the mechanism of stem cell niche maintenance in plants. Stem cells are the source of cells for organ development and regeneration in multicellular eukaryotic organism. A key question is how different signals integrate to maintain the correct position and size of the stem cell population and to coordinate proper meristem function. In the shoot meristem, the stem cells are specified by WUSCHEL (WUS)-dependent signals from underlying organizing centre cells, and transcriptional control of the WUS gene is a key regulatory switch in temporal and spatial stem cell regulation. Therefore, understanding the transcriptional regulation of WUS will give us insight in the mechanisms of how the boundaries and the position of the stem cell niche are stably maintained within the proliferating cellular context of the shoot meristem. We propose to perform an innovative genetic screen and a yeast-one-hybrid screen to identify transcriptional regulators of WUS, and to characterize their function in the stem cell niche in detail. Results will provide insight into plant stem cell regulation but also contribute to our knowledge in broader stem cell biology and have potential applications in biotechnological modification of plant growth and development. By undertaking this study, the candidate will have the opportunity to move to a different EU member state, to complement his background in plant physiology and molecular biology with a thorough experience in plant development and genetics, to experience working in a leading research group and to make a major step in his personal development. Together this will boost the scientific maturity and professionalism of the candidate and prepare him to work as an independent, competitive and innovative scientist in the near future.
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