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Molecular genetic control and evolution of inflorescence architecture


Research objectives and content
Des Development of the plant body depends on the activity, of meristems, sets of undifferentiated cells that form the primordia for novel meristems and organs. The inllorescence, the structure carrying flowers, is generated by the inflorescence meristem (IFM) and displays in nature a range of morphologies that result from different developmental IFM 'procrams'. In Arabidopsis and Antirrhimum the IFM generates floral meristems (FMs) on its flanks, but never transforms in a FM itself. In Petunia the IFM bifurcates to yield a large FM and a small IFM resulting in a continuous reiteration of (determinate) terminal flowers on a 'zig-zag' inflorescence Mutational analysis showed that conserved mechanisms control the 'identity' of the FM in Petunia and Arabidopsis while in Petunia branching is controlled by a distinct mecahnism.. I will analyse two transposon-tagged Petunia mutants, extrapetals and floozy in which branching is bloacked or altered. I will isolate exp and fzy to determine (1) the nature of the gene products, (ii) the exp and fzyexpression patterns in inild type and mutants and (iii) enable an analysis of the exp and homologs in species that lack; sympodial branching (e.g. Arabidopsis). This will provide new insights into the genetic control and the evolution of inflorescence structure.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)!
My research education is in T-cell signal transduction, however I have built up a great interest in plant developmental biology because of its promising basic research future and potential for applied science. The project \\ill provide me a thorough introduction to plant (molecular) biology, new biological problems (developmental biology) and scientific approaches (molecular genetics). With this background I will be better and more all-round equiped for a further carreer in biology.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
Because flowers are essential for the production of fruits and seeds in crop plants. By studyng the genes that control inflorescence development, the Knowledge and biomaterials will be obatined to predictably! alter inflorescence structure in a species. On longer term this will open the way to alter the number and position of flowers in crops, to improve improve characters like ornamental value or fruit/seed yield.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
1087,De Boelelaan
1081 HV Amsterdam