Dissecting the signals that control developmental cell death in the Arabidopsis thaliana root cap

01 October 2018 → 30 September 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biomaterials engineering
    • Biological system engineering
    • Biomaterials engineering
    • Biomechanical engineering
    • Other (bio)medical engineering
    • Environmental engineering and biotechnology
    • Industrial biotechnology
    • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering
developmental cell death
Project description

Programmed cell death (PCD) is an essential process in the development of animals and plants that
is under tight regulatory control. Uncontrolled PCD can lead to disease and death, therefore
organisms need sophisticated mechanisms to ensure PCD occurs in a controlled manner. In
contrast to forms of animal PCD such as apoptosis, surprisingly little is known about the
developmentally controlled PCD (dPCD) in plants. Recent findings that dPCD occurs in the root cap
of the plant Arabidopsis offer a unique opportunity to study dPCD in the development of an easily
accessible plant organ. The root cap surrounds the growing root tip and has a tightly regulated
organ size. This organ size uniformity is achieved by a precise balance between cell division and
dPCD. Using the root cap as a dPCD model, I aim to contribute to the understanding of this
essential process in plants. To do so, I will use an innovative genetic screen to unravel the role of
cellular communication in dPCD. Targeted genome editing by CRISPR/Cas will be used to generate
combinations of mutant plants, allowing me to overcome the functional redundancy in the large
gene family of plant receptors. In parallel, I will employ a classical mutant screen to identify novel
components of dPCD in an unbiased fashion. Finally, I will perform an in-depth functional analysis
of genes identified by these two approaches to unravel their role in the complex communication system plants use to coordinate dPCD.