Outline of Research and Education
We are interested in the developmental coordination of proliferation and differentiation, and spatiotemporal-specific gene regulation in flower development. We also explore environmental response and acclimation.To reveal these molecular mechanisms, we use Arabidopsis as a model plant for genetic, reverse-genetic, biochemical and genomics approaches, especially focusing on epigenetic histone modification. We also use rice to study its conservation and diversification. Our students will work at the frontiers of plant molecular genetics, developing their research, presentation and writing skills.
Major Research Topics
Cell-cell signaling cascades controlling floral stem cell maintenance and cross-talk with transcriptional cascades
Flowers originate from self-renewing pluripotent stem cells in the floral meristems. The maintenance and differentiation of stem cells are regulated by a well-coordinated interplay of cell-cell signaling and transcriptional events. In flower development, the expression of the stem cell determinant WUS is terminated by multiple pathways. We study the cross-talk of multiple feedback pathways controlling WUS expression and reveal the molecular basis of developmental coordination (Fig.1).
Transcriptional cascades controlling floral stem cell termination
Floral stem cell termination is regulated by a multi-step process mediated by at least four transcription factors (Fig.2). AG’s function in the meristem determinacy is mediated mainly by KNU and CRC as the direct targets. SUP regulates the meristem determinacy independent of AG. We study how KNU, CRC and SUP regulate floral stem cell activities and reveal the mechanisms of spatiotemporal-specific gene regulation.
Environmental response and acclimation
We study how plants memorize environmental temperature and light conditions and reveal the molecular mechanisms that confer the plasticity and robustness of the cascades under various environmental stimuli. These studies will serve as the basis of plant growth optimization for better yields of crop plants (Fig.3).
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