Laboratories and faculty

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.

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.

References

Research publications

  1. Sun et al., Plant Cell, doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00450, 2019
  2. Wu et al., Plant Signaling and Behavior, doi: 10.1080/15592324.2019/1604019, 2019
  3. Wu et al., Plant, Cell & Environment, doi.org/10.1111/pce.13547, 2019
  4. Yamaguchi et al., Nature Commun. 9, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07763-0, 2018
  5. Arai et al., Angewandte Chemie., doi.org/10.1002/anie.201804304, 2018
  6. Guo et al., Frontiers in Plant Sci., Plant Biotech., doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.00555, 2018
  7. Xu et al., EMBO J., 37, e97499, 2018
  8. Uemura et al., Plant Reproduction, 31, 89-105, 2018
  9. Yamaguchi, Huang et al., Nature Commun., 8, 1125, 2017
  10. Yasuda, Wada, Kakizaki et al., Nature Plants, 3, 16206, 2016
  11. Yamaguchi et al., Plant Physiol., 170, 283-293, 2016
  12. Breuil-Broyer et al., Annals. of Botany, 117, 905-923, 2016
  13. Wu, Yamaguchi, Xiao et al., e-Life, 4, e09269, 2015
  14. Sun et al. Science, 343, 1248559, 2014
  15. Gan et al. Nature Commun., 5, 5098, 2014
  16. Xu et al. Nucl. Acids Res., 42, 13749-63, 2014
  17. Yamaguchi et al. Science 344, 638-641, 2014
  18. Shirakawa et al., Plant Cell, 26, 4448-4461, 2014
  19. Shirakawa et al., Plant Cell, 26, 4039-4052, 2014
  20. Xu et al. Current Biol., 23, 345-350, 2013
  21. Yamaguchi et al. Dev. Cell 24:271-282, 2013
  22. Yamaguchi et al. Plant J. 69:844-856, 2012
  23. Ng et al. PLoS Biology ,7, e1000251, 2009
  24. Sun et al. Genes Dev., 23, 1791-1804, 2009
  25. Ito et al. Plant Cell , 19, 3516-3529, 2007
  26. Ito et al. Nature, 430, 356-360, 2004
  27. Ito et al. Current Biol. , 13, 1524-1530, 2003

Reviews

  1. Ito. Plant Cell Physiol., doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcz093, 2019
  2. Xu et al., Journal of Experimental Botany, 70: 1711-1718, 2019
  3. Xu & Ito Journal of Cell Signaling, doi: 10.4172/2576-1471.1000186, 2018
  4. Kadoya et al., Seibutu to Kagaku (in Japanese), 55, 602-610, 2017
  5. Sun and Ito., Frontiers in Plant Science, 6:17, DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00017, 2015
  6. Guo et al., Plant Cell Physiol., doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcv037, 2015
  7. Gan et al., Plant Signaling & Behavior, doi: 10.1080/15592324.2015.1027851, 2015
  8. Ito., Life Science Leading Author’s Review (in Japanese), 3, e014, 2014
  9. Ito., Japanese Society for Chronobiology (in Japanese), 20, 18-24, 2014
  10. 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
  11. Xu et al., Nucleus, 4, 274-276, 2013
  12. Gan et al., International Review of Cell & Molecular Biology, 305, 115-161, 2013
  13. Xu et al., Plant Signaling & Behavior, 8, e25006, 2013
  14. Ito., Curr Opin Plant Biol, 14, 53-59, 2011