Organogenesis and Plant Architecture

The ‘Organogenesis and Plant Architecture’ them aims to understand how plant cells execute genetic instructions to produce particular physical plant structures. We will develop a deeper understanding of how cells respond to genetic instructions as they form the organs of a plant, and identify useful variations in individual genes in wheat, barley and oilseed rape which can improve yield and yield stability. The theme has three objectives;

Control of Plant Architecture through Meristem Activity (Boden, Grieneisen and Sablowski)

We aim to identify genes that coordinate the decision to form a spikelet from an inflorescence meristem and characterise their function and expression while analysing metabolites during inflorescence growth. We will study how rib meristem function is controlled in Arabidopsis and barley, its relation to meristem size, and how phytohormones interact with each other and with nutrient signals to regulate cell division, elongation and branching patterns in the root.

Integration of Cellular and Organ Behaviour (Coen, Feng, Grieneisen, Marée, Østergaard)

This objective aims to develop computational models with cellular resolution to study growth and polarity in leaves (Arabidopsis and Utricularia), analyse leaf growth in crops (barley, maize) and anther development in Arabidopsis.  We aim to understand how pods grow and are shaped in oilseed rape (B. napus) and will test to which extent reproductive organs maintain developmental homeostasis during reproductive tissue development. We will study cell division and growth in roots to understand how strain rates affect morphogen gradients and tissue organisation.

Seed Size and Vigour in Arabidopsis, Brassica napus and Wheat. (Bevan, Penfield, Uauy)

We will study how ubiquitin ligase activity regulates levels of transcription factors in the interplay between testa and embryo formation, and define how variation in such activities contribute to field yields and quality traits in oilseed rape. We will identify wheat DA1 orthologs to reveal their role in grain size control during seed development combining advantageous alleles for grain width/length to determine complementary effects on yield. We will study the role of factors affecting seed vigour and stack high vigour alleles with seed size mutations, analysing the effects on field establishment in the presence of pests such as slugs and stem flea beetle.