Dr Yusheng Zhao

Postdoctoral Scientist Genes in the Environment

Temperature is an important environmental factor which all organisms have to cope with during development and every organism has evolved certain mechanisms to fight against thermal stresses.

Of interest, some organisms are able to use temperature as a signal to regulate growth and development. However, it remains unknown how specific temperature signals are extracted from complicated temperature profiles.

Plants provide an excellent system in which to investigate such thermo-sensory mechanisms.

The sessile nature of plants determines that they have to cope with the full range of temperature changes over days and seasons.

Plants have evolved certain mechanisms to align their growth and development, like floral transition, with seasonal temperature changes.

FLC levels control the timing of transition from vegetative growth to reproductive development in plants. Vernalisation promotes floral transition by epigenetically silencing FLC during prolonged exposure to cold, ensuring that plants align their flowering with spring.

This FLC repression by prolonged cold requires a PHD-PRC2 complex including PRC2 core subunit VRN2 and three other plant specific PHD proteins VIN3/VRN7, VRN5 and VEL1.

Of interest, the expression of VIN3 is cold induced, and its induced level is proportional to the length of cold . Therefore, Yusheng is using VIN3 as an reporter to look for upstream components of the thermo-sensory pathway during vernalisation.