Robert Bellow

PhD Student Genes in the Environment


Complexity in organ shape often arises from functional adaptation.

The genetic and developmental framework for complex shapes is often the same as simple ones, just with a bit of tinkering. Robert is exploring this idea using the carnivorous plant Utricularia gibba.

This plant sports both radial leaves and prey-capturing traps which are highly modified cup-shaped leaves. How this shape is formed using the same machinery as flat leaves remains unknown.

Robert is using individuals from a mutant screen, the first of its kind, to identify which genes play a role in formation of this complex shape, whether they be known leaf-development genes or novel ones.