Laboratories and faculty

Plant Developmental Signaling

Outline of Research and Education

Our scientific interests are centered around how plant cells acquire specialized functions and how they cooperatively regulate plant growth and life cycle. Each student works on a unique and important project that addresses a central question about plant growth and development. Our research is important not only for solving fundamental questions in basic biology, but also for gaining the knowledge required for food and energy security (Fig. 1)

Major Research Topics

How root growth is regulated by endogenous and external cues

We are interested in how plant roots execute unique and important functions, such as mechanical anchorage, nutrient and water uptake, and rhizosphere interaction, to support the life of plant bodies. We develop state-of-the-art microscopic techniques to visualize gene expression and cellular/subcellular dynamics of growing roots, and utilize them to elucidate the genetic and molecular mechanisms of root growth regulation in changing environments (Fig. 2).

How metabolic and developmental pathways cooperate to optimize plant-microbe interaction

Plant roots grow in a soil environment that is inhabited by large numbers of both beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms. How plant roots optimize their growth while interacting with such a wide variety of microbes is largely unknown. We are combining developmental and metabolic studies to elucidate the molecular and genetic mechanisms that optimize root growth in a microbe-rich soil environment (Fig. 3).

How germ cell morphologies and functions are established in plants

Germ cells, such as eggs and sperm, are functionally specialized for sexual reproduction, but their development is difficult to study using the model angiosperms such as Arabidopsis thaliana. We are instead utilizing the model bryophyte Marchantia polymorpha and identified key transcription factors of sexual reproduction in land plants. We are now intensively analyzing the functions of their target genes to elucidate the mechanisms by which germ cell morphologies and functions are established in plants (Fig. 4).

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  6. Hisanaga, Yamaoka, Kawashima et al., Nature Plants, 5, 663-669, 2019
  7. Fujiwara, Goh, Tsugawa et al., Development, 148, dev196253, 2021
  8. Hisanaga et al., eLife, 10, e57090, 2021
  9. Goh, Sakamoto et al., Development, 149, dev200593, 2022