Plant Regeneration and Organ Formation
Plants generate new organs throughout their lives. This allows them to recover from severe injuries and to respond to changing environments.
We want to study how these organs are formed.
Organs are most often produced from specialized zones in the plant: meristems make leaves and flowers, and the pericycle makes lateral roots. The study of organogenesis has focused on the production of organs in these contexts.
However, plants are very plastic in their development and they can grow organs in an unusual manner, as when they recover from injury or during the production of adventitious organs (e.g. roots from stems, or shoots from callus). We are interested in studying the formation of organs in these “odd” contexts in order to better understand the cellular mechanisms that control organogenesis. In other words, we study the exceptions to shed light on the rules.
Organ formation is a complex process that involves regulation of growth, tissue identity and patterning. The lab combines genetics, advanced microscopy and intensive bioinformatic analysis of genomic data, which we use to follow development from the level of tissues to that of single cells. The lab is now focusing on early stages in the formation of adventitious roots in Arabidopsis and tomatoes.
Apart from the developmental work, we have a long standing interest in deciphering the cis-regulatory transcriptional code and in the design of synthetic promoters.
An adventitious root emerging from a dissected Arabidopsis leaf
Adventitious root initials forming on a tomato stem