Dr Patricia Garay

Postdoctoral Scientist Genes in the Environment

Whether in a growing baby or a growing plant, developmental changes proceed properly because genes are activated or silenced at precise moments.

 

This is the case with the thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), which must be silenced by a long period of winter’s cold before the plant can flower.

 

While it is known that FLC is silenced by a specific complex (PRC2) in the cold, we still don’t fully understand how the PRC2 complex interacts with other molecules–like DNA-binding proteins, transcriptional machinery, nucleosomes, and sense and antisense RNA.

 

To investigate this Tricia is rearranging key DNA sequences in FLC fluorescent reporter transgenes and examining cold-induced changes in the transcription factor VAL1 to determine transcriptional and chromatin level interactions that lead to precisely timed shutdown of FLC in winter.

 

It is hoped that Tricia’s work will expand beyond linear explanations of gene silencing by unpicking the simultaneous molecular choreography at FLC. She hopes these discoveries can someday contribute to new avenues of human and plant research.