Impact of external stimuli on meiotic recombination and ploidy reduction in plants - molecular factors and hormonal regulation

01 January 2017 → 31 December 2019
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Other biological sciences
    • Other natural sciences
Hormonal regulation
Project description

Meiosis is an essential part of sexual reproduction as it shuffles the parental genetic information and leads to haploid spore formation. The level of genetic exchange between parental chromosomes is tightly regulated through the orchestrated action of several recombination proteins. Recently, studies in yeast and metazoans have revealed an additional role for the environment. More specifically, stress appears to enhance the frequency of meiotic homologous recombination (MHR), hence providing an adaptive mechanism to increase genetic variation upon exposure to adverse conditions. In plants, however, little is known about the effect of (a)biotic stress on MHR, so that it is yet unknown whether plant genome evolution is also driven by a similar stress-dependent regulatory mechanism.

Here, we aim to characterize the effect of different stresses on meiotic cell division in plants. To achieve this, we use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and take advantage of the qrt1 FTL system, which enables simultaneous screening for alterations in MHR and cell division. To elucidate the underlying stress-responsive regulatory mechanism(s), both cytological and molecular approaches will be used to identify the meiosis-specific target(s) and to unravel the involvement of putative signaling pathways. In addition, the role of specific plant hormones in stress-dependent meiotic responses will be monitored and the underlying molecular control and signaling mechanisms will be determined.