Identification and characterization of novel key regulators of developmentally controlled programmed cell death in plants

01 January 2020 → 31 December 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Plant developmental and reproductive biology
developmentally controlled programmed cell death in plants plant developmental genetics root cap development
Project description

Programmed Cell Death (PCD) is fundamental to the development and health of multicellular organisms However, our knowledge on developmentally controlled PCD in plants remains fragmentary, despite its undoubted significance for plant growth and reproduction

My team has established the Arabidopsis root cap as a novel model system for developmental PCD in plants This model has enabled us to identify first transcription factors in a gene regulatory network controlling the preparation of PCD However, the molecular processes that terminate the vital functions of a plant cell during the final steps of PCD execution remain unknown

To identify novel key regulators of the final stages of root cap PCD, I have devised a research project combining single-cell transcriptome profiling with forward and reverse genetics A classical forward genetics screen exploits a sensitive phenotyping approach to isolate mutants with PCD suppression phenotypes An innovative differential single-cell RNA sequencing approach enables us to determine the transcriptome profile that is sufficient and necessary for PCD execution, and identify novel PCD candidate regulators We will investigate candidate genes and putative redundantly acting related genes using a pioneering tissue-specific multiplex CRISPR approach The insights generated by this research project will advance our understanding of PCD as a fundamental principle of plant development and open new avenues for crop improvement and protection