In past years, mutagenesis approaches have proven immensely successful in dissecting the genetics of plant development. While genes that qualitatively affect plant development are very useful for understanding the mechanistic basis of growth and development, these genes appear less likely targets for the evolution of plant morphology than genes that modify the quantitative expression of a trait.
Exploiting natural genetic variation enables the detection of alleles that give rise to variation observed within species, which are generally much less characterized than qualitative traits. Natural genetic variation in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has been touted as an untapped resource to understand plant genetics and development.
The novel Arabidopsis gene, BREVIS RADIX (BRX), was identified using natural variation to isolate regulators that are responsible for intraspecific variation in root system morphology.
BRX encodes a protein of unknown function and is the founding member of a small, plant-specific gene family, which is highly conserved among angiosperm species. The primary focus of the proposed research is to elucidate the biochemical, physiological, and cell biological functions of BRX.
To this end, my specific aims are to:
- determine the role BR X plays in coordination of auxin and brassinosteroid signalling;
- understand the regulation and function of the BRX protein; and
- define the cell biological and physiological effects of presence or absence of BRX activity by microarray analysis of BRX-inducible lines.
The proposed research will result in the first detailed characterization of the biochemical and cell biological function of BRX, the founding member of a novel, plant-specific gene family.
Moreover, the brxS mutation provides a unique tool to address how auxin and brassinosteroids exert combinatorial control at the molecular level.
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