Plants have a specific need for strict regulation of cell division orientation, as plant cells are unable to move due to the presence of a rigid cell wall. Plant cell divisions can be perpendicular or parallel to the growth axis of the tissue, contributing to longitudinal and radial growth respectively. Despite the clear importance of oriented cell divisions to generate a correct three-dimensional body plan in plants, it is currently unknown how a cell makes the decision to divide one way or the other.
This project will take advantage of a unique set of chemical compounds that I discovered recently that are able to change cell division orientation in plants. As the effect of these small molecules is fast, reversible and is able to overcome genetic redundancy, we have the perfect tool-kit in hands to unravel how plants control the orientation of their cell divisions at a cellular and molecular level. I will first fully characterize these small molecules and next identify the target proteins. As such, I will identify important regulators of cell division orientation in plants that will help to unravel this crucial developmental process. Moreover, the small molecules will provide a valuable resource to the research community as a novel way to control plant cell division orientation.