Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science
How morphogen homeostasis evolved to shape land plants
Understanding how plants regulate their growth and shape is of fundamental importance to successfully breeding crop plants that gain high yields, even in extreme weather conditions. The body plan of animals and plants determines the positioning of organs such as legs in animals or leaves and flowers in plants. This is regulated by small chemicals called morphogens.
One important developmental signaling compound in land plants is auxin, a key regulator of almost all aspects of plant development, including morphogenesis and adaptive responses. Auxin gradients are established and maintained by a tightly regulated interplay between homeostasis, signalling, and transport. Auxin can be inactivated by conjugation, but metabolic data suggest that auxin oxidation is the major auxin degradation pathway. I recently identified the two major auxin oxidising enzymes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana: DIOXYGENASE FOR AUXIN OXIDATION 1&2 (DAO1&2). My research programme will answer how this novel clade of auxin degrading enzymes contributes to plant development and how auxin degradation contributes to the plant's abiotic stress acclimatisation.
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