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Final Report Summary - FRUIT LOOK (The physiology and genetics of fruit formation: from genes to networks)

The FRUITLOOK Exchange Project was aimed to reinforce the Collaboration among 6 research groups localised in North America and Europe, the common efforts are dedicated to fruit characterisation using genetics, genomics and post-genomics tools. Each partner provided complementary technologies and expertise in diverse research areas, including reproductive biology, developmental genetics, functional genomics, molecular genetics, thereby offering an excellent platform and environment for training young investigators.
FRUITLOOK main questions were:
1) Which are the genetic and molecular networks regulating fruit formation and morphology?
2) Do plant hormones act as morphogens during fruit development?
3) Can we elaborate a model able to explain fruit forms?
Fruits are derived mostly from the fertilized mature gynoecium, although, especially in fleshy fruits, additional floral components are frequently recruited. Fruit development is a genetically programmed process, unique to flowering plants, which provides a suitable environment for seed maturation and seed dispersal. Given the fundamental nature of both the dietary and biological significance of fruit, molecular dissection of fruit development has considerable interest.
The fruit is the result of the development of the ovary and it is a major evolutionary acquisition of flowering plants (Angiosperms). Fruits likely evolved to protect the developing seeds and to ensure seed dispersal as seen by the incredible array of morphologies and many types of mechanisms for seed dispersal
In the frame of FRUITLOOK all the consortium efforts have been dedicated to answer to these three questions. The scientific results of FRUITLOOK have been achieved thanking the complementary technologies and expertise in diverse research areas, including reproductive biology, developmental genetics, functional genomics and molecular genetics, thereby offering an excellent platform and environment for training young investigators. During the FRUITLOOK action researchers used genomics tools, ChIP analyses, protein/protein interactions, and hormone homeostasis manipulation to shed light in the mechanisms controlling fruit formation, growth and maturation.
Q1) Fruit morphology and function depends to a great extent on gynoecium patterning. The FRUITLOOK consortium analysed already known and new fruit regulators generating high order mutants, to establish the genetic relations existing among them. Several regulators are transcription factors, which, in response to endogenous and /or exogenous signals, modulate the transcription of several genes controlling either the life span of the organ either its differentiation. Several efforts have been done to highlight the cascade controlled by these key regulators (P1,P2,P3,P4).
Q2) Gynoecium morphogenesis is controlled by the action of genetic regulators as well as by the activity of some phytohormones such as auxin, cytokinin and gibberellin, which act as morphogens. The consortium has worked to clarify the role of hormones and has been able to assign new roles to the auxin homeostasis within the floral organ. The group has studied the role of ABA in relation to fertilization and maturation events.
Q3) Can we elaborate a model able to explain fruit forms?
The FRUITLOOK groups have put together the information produced about the fruit regulators, they have identified upstream regulators and target genes that responds to the transcription factors building a detailed networks.

FRUIT LOOK outcomes will have an huge potential biotechnological as well as breeding applications for a sustainable agriculture The research investments associated with the proposed project are expected to be returned by positively affecting industrial competitiveness and agricultural profitability. FRUITLOOK has also provided opportunities for education and training of young researchers, including exchange visits between labs, contributing to the spread of knowledge

Reported by

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI MILANO
Italy

Subjects

Life Sciences
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