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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Molecular control of lateral initiation


The LATIN programme's objective is to improve our understanding of the regulation of branching in plants using Arabidopsis as our model. Despite its importance, little is known about the molecular mechanisms controlling root and shoot lateral initiation and maturation. Physiological studies indicate that the plant hormones auxin and cytokinin are of central importance. Arabidopsis molecular genetics provides a powerful approach to dissect phytohormone-regulated branching. which has already resulted in the identification of a selection of root and shoot branch mutants and their genes by members of the LATIN programme.
The information and molecular tools which arise from our studies of Arabidopsis will underpin our efforts to manipulate branching in selected transgenic crops. Eucalyptus, poplar and oil-seed rape are important European crops, providing materials for the paper, construction and chemical industries respectively. The ability to engineer novel branching phenotypes within these target crops will have major economic consequences for agronomically important qualities such as plant propagation. processing and yield.
The complexity of branch control demands a multi-disciplinary approach in partnership with industry that would be impossible to achieve in any individual research group or company. The partnership consists of a truly pan-european collection of experts specialising in the fields of:
A. Arabidopsis Molecular Genetics - Catherine Bellini & Jean-Denis Faure, INRA, Versailles, France (INRA); Malcolm Bennen, University of Warwick, UK (UW); Ottoline Leyser, University of York (UK); Klaus Palme, Max-Delbrucke-Laboratory Koln, Germany (MPG.MPL); Burkhard Schulz, University of Koln, Germany (UC). B. Plant Hormone Quantification - Goran Sandberg, Faculty of Forestry, Umea, Sweden (SLU).
C. Plant Cytology - Pedro Casero, U. de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain (UEX). D. Crop transformation and regeneration - Goran Sandberg, Faculty of Forestry, Umea, Sweden (SLU); Tina Barsby, Nickerson Seeds, Cambridge, UK (N-bio); John Purse, The Shell Forestry Research Unit, UK (Shell)
The expertise assembled within the LATIN programme will enable us to collectively address our overall objective, stated above, as four separate work packages:
A. The identification by mutation of new genes involved in branching control: resulting in the isolation of new mutations which influence branching by regulating either phytohormone-related metabolism, transport or signalling processes.
B. The molecular characterization of newly isolated and existing branching genes: will provide sequence information which will give a valuable insight into the function of each branch control gene and related genes. C. Determination of the role of auxin and cytokinin in branching control: by exploiting the experimental tools available within the LATIN programme, to examine the relationship between these phytohormones and branch gene expression.
D. The manipulation of branching patterns through transgenic approaches: by expression of Arabidopsis branch control genes and their orthologues in transgenic Arabidopsis, eucalyptus, poplar and oil-seed rape to engineer novel root phenotypes.

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Participants (7)