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Growth and development of higher plants

Research project P4/15 (Research action P4)

Persons :

Description :

The plant kingdom shows an enormous diversity of forms and structures. The sessile life of higher plants requires great flexibility in the genetic programs that regulate development. Many external factors such as light intensity, light quality, temperature, nutrient availability, and interactions with pathogenic organisms have a considerable influence on the growth and development of higher plants. Current knowledge of the molecular processes that control growth and development is still very limited. The IAP network presented here aims to contribute to developmental biology by studying some aspects of plant development. The participating teams are all internationally recognized and committed to efficient, coherent, and multidisciplinary cooperation. Wherever possible, Arabidopsis thaliana has been chosen as a model plant.

The network comprises 8 sub-projects. Three of these have a supporting role: to provide technological innovations and collect new information and means for use in the five other projects, each of which studies a different aspect of plant development.

The thematic sub-projects have the following aims:

1.Identification and cloning of key regulatory genes involved in leaf morphogenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana (RUG, VUB, CLO-Gent, UIA).
2.Elucidation of the mechanism by which the gram-positive bacterium Rhodococcus fascians induces leafy gall formation. The process of fasciation will be compared with the formation of shoot primordia (through in vitro treatment with cytokinins or through Agrobacterium mediated ipt-gene expression in transgenic plants) or with an analogous process of fasciation caused by the product p-fluorophenylalanine (PFA); Later on the proposed study may lead to establishing an efficient, rapid and reproducible regeneration system applicable to a wide range of species and genotypes (RUG, ULB, UIA).
3.Molecular analysis of the formation of syncytia (=large feeding cells) in nematode-infected Arabidopsis roots (RUG, UIA, VUB, CLO-Gent);
4.Study of the molecular processes underlying induction of flowering (ULg, RUG, UIA);
5.Characterization of genes controlling the self-incompatibility process inLolium spp. identification of the mechanism inducing sport formation in azalea (Rhodondendron spp.)(CLO-Gent, RUG).

The supporting sub-projects are:

1.Development of an efficient transposon-based gene inactivation system (RUG, UIA, VUB, CLO-Gent).
2.Obtaining better knowledge of the molecular mechanisms controlling cell division in plants (RUG, UIA, ULg, ULB).
3.Further development and optimisation of physico-chemical and immunochemical techniques for analysing the endogenous concentration, metabolism, and inter- and intracellular localisation of plant growth regulators (UIA, VUB, ULg, CLO-Gent, RUG).

The project shows a large number of effective collaborations. Its structure, involving a co-leader for each sub-project, guarantees direct monitoring of the project.

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