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Asymmetric cell division of Arabidopsis Zygote


Asymmetric cell division generates two daughter cells that adopt different developmental fates and often differ in size. For example, a stem cell generates another stem cell and a daughter cell that gives rise to differentiated cells. This vital type of cell division occurs in a wide range of organisms, from bacteria and yeasts to plants and animals, and plays crucial roles during multicellular development.

Molecular mechanisms of asymmetric cell division have been studied in animal model systems, such as Drosophila and C.elegans but barely addressed in plants. However, mechanistic differences are to be expected between the two groups since plants and animals have evolved independently. Although post-embryonic development predominates in higher plants such as Arabidopsis, the basic body plan is established during embryogenesis and here, the very first asymmetric cell division is crucial for all subsequent development. The Arabidopsis zygote divides asymmetrically to give an apical and a basal daughter cell. These two cells differ in gene expression, cell size and cell division program, and give rise to different pattern elements of the embryo.

Gene expression studies indicate that already at the earliest stages of embryogenesis, specific transcription programs are initiated in single precursor cells of embryo pattern elements. Furthermore, recent findings on the directional movement of the plant signalling molecule auxin provide a unique association between individual cell polarity and the establishment of polarity at the tissue, organ and whole plant level.

The aim of this project is to characterize the asymmetric cell division of the zygote and the establishment of apical versus basal cell fate at the molecular level. Our objectives are to: (1) generate and analyze fluorescent molecular markers, (2) search for regulators of BDL expression, and (3) identify transcriptional profiles of apical and basal cell.

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