Laboratories

Plant Stem Cell Regulation and Floral Patterning

Outline of Research and Education

We are interested in the holistic view of gene regulation in plant reproduction, which leads to developmental robustness and coordination. We explore signaling and epigenetic control in stem cell maintenance, environmental response and fertilization. To reveal the molecular mechanisms, we use Arabidopsis as a model plant for genetic, reverse-genetic, biochemical and genomics approaches, as well as Brassicas and rice to study the conservation and diversification. Our students work at the frontiers of plant molecular genetics, developing their research, presentation and writing skills.

Major Research Topics

Floral stem cell homeostasis

Flowers originate from self-renewing pluripotent stem cells in the floral meristems (Fig.1). The maintenance and differentiation of stem cells are regulated by a well-coordinated interplay of cell-cell signaling and epigenetic regulation, leading to spatiotemporal-specific gene regulation. We study downstream cascades of the receptor kinase signaling pathway controlling stem cell homeostasis.

Stem cell termination and cell specification

In flower development, the stem cell activity is terminated in multistep pathways mediated by multiple transcription factors. We study transcriptional/epigenetic mechanisms and hormone signaling controlling stem cell termination and cell specification (Fig. 2).

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).

Mechanisms of dominant/recessive relationships in plants

Pollen determinant genes functioning for self-incompatibility is governed by a complex dominance hierarchy. We study the mechanism of this dominant/recessive relationships regulated by small RNA-based epigenetic mechanism and its evolution in Brassicaceae.

References

Publications

  1. Yasuda, Wada, Kakizaki et al., Nature Plants, 3, 16206, 2016
  2. Yamaguchi et al., Plant Physiol., 170, 283-293, 2016
  3. Wu, Yamaguchi, Xiao et al., e-Life, 4, e09269, 2015
  4. Sun et al. Science, 343, 1248559, 2014
  5. Gan et al. Nature Commun., 5, 5098, 2014
  6. Xu et al. Nucl. Acids Res., 42, 13749-63, 2014
  7. Yamaguchi et al. Science 344, 638-641, 2014
  8. Shirakawa et al., Plant Cell, 26, 4448-4461, 2014
  9. Shirakawa et al., Plant Cell, 26, 4039-4052, 2014
  10. Xu et al. Current Biol., 23, 345-350, 2013
  11. Yamaguchi et al. Dev. Cell 24:271-282, 2013
  12. Yamaguchi et al. Plant J. 69:844-856, 2012
  13. Ng et al. PLoS Biology ,7, e1000251, 2009
  14. Sun et al. Genes Dev., 23, 1791-1804, 2009
  15. Ito et al. Plant Cell , 19, 3516-3529, 2007
  16. Ito et al. Nature, 430, 356-360, 2004
  17. Ito et al. Current Biol. , 13, 1524-1530, 2003
  18. Ito et al. Plant Cell , 12, 1541-1550, 2000

Reviews

  1. Sun and Ito., Frontiers in Plant Science, 6:17, DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00017, 2015
  2. Guo et al., Plant Cell Physiol., doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcv037, 2015
  3. Ito., Life Science Leading Author’s Review (in Japanese), 3, e014,DOI: 10.7875/leading.author.3.e014, 2014
  4. Ito., Japanese Society for Chronobiology (in Japanese), 20, 18-24, 2014
  5. Xu et al., Methods in Molecular Biology, 1110, XIV, 383-399, ISBN 978-1-4614-9407-2, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-9408-9, 2013
  6. Xu et al., Nucleus, 4, 274-276, 2013
  7. Gan et al., International Review of Cell & Molecular Biology, 305, 115-161, 2013
  8. Xu et al., Plant Signaling & Behavior, 8, e25006, 2013
  9. Ito., Curr Opin Plant Biol, 14, 53-59, 2011
Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Arabidopsis flower development
In flower development, the stem cell activities in the floral meristem are terminated (determinate), while the shoot apical meristem continues to grow.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Imaging of key transcription factors in floral meristems (left) and a differentiated myrosin cell (right)
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 Plant growth optimization
By revealing the mechanisms of floral stem cell regulation and environmental responses, we will develop a molecular basis for plant growth optimization for higher crop yield.
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