The sessile lifestyle of plants requires them to adapt their growth and development to environmental variation. This implies a tight spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression to control developmental responses. Translational control, the regulation of the initiation, elongation or termination of ribosomes on an mRNA, provides cells additional mechanisms to rapidly control gene expression in a reversible manner, in response to environmental and developmental cues. It is known that non-coding RNA (ncRNA) can modify spatiotemporal gene expression patterns, and play a key role in developmental plasticity. Their role in the regulation of initiation of mRNA translation have been described in animals and hinted in plants, where mechanistic details are limited. Improving tolerance to nutrient deficiency is a major goal of agricultural research. Improvement of inorganic phosphate (Pi) starvation has been the target of classical breeding and genetic engineering. ncRNAs (i.e. miRNA399) have been shown to regulate root development during Pi starvation in roots of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The three objectives of this project are to (a) analyze the role of translational control at the genomic level in response to Pi starvation using state-of-the-art methods that resolve ribosome activity to the codon level; (b) to assess the role of diverse classes of ncRNA in translational regulation in response to Pi starvation; and (c) to delve into the mechanistic role of selected ncRNAs in translational regulation during Pi starvation Towards these goals, we will isolate ribosomes specifically from root meristem cells and translation will be analyzed using genomic and bioinformatics approaches, The outcome will be identification of mechanisms of translational that control root developmental response to Pi starvation. This project will provide the postdoctoral fellow training in two groups with complementary expertise in translational control and ncRNA function in plants.
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