Plant Science Seminar - Prof. Wolfgang Busch

1/23/2017 9:00 AM - 1/23/2017 10:00 AM
To grow and survive plants need access to nutrients and water: resources that are not evenly distributed in the soil environment. Plants have evolved complex, often highly branched root systems that allow them to explore and forage the soil to acquire these resources. At the same time, a multitude of environmental signals are processed in order to continuously adjust root growth. Interestingly, growth responses to environmental signals differ not only between species, but also within species. However, little is known about which genetic components are responsible for determining genotype-specific differences in root growth and its response to environmental signals.
We aim to identify genes, gene networks, and their molecular functions that are responsible for these different responses. For this, we use custom phenotyping pipelines that enable us to capture quantitative root phenotypes from a very large number of individuals, genome-wide association studies to identify the associated loci in the genome, and systems-biology driven approaches to identify the networks of interacting genes and pathways that provide the molecular and cellular context in which the underlying genes quantitatively regulate root growth. Using these approaches, we have recently identified and experimentally confirmed multiple novel regulators and regulatory modules of epistatically interacting genes that shape root growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. These include a cluster of genes encoding for LEUCINE-RICH RECEPTOR-LIKE-KINASES that interact at the protein level, constituting a novel molecular signaling module for root growth regulation. Overall, our systems-genetics approach enables us to approach the complex genetic and molecular bases for the determination of root growth by environmental signals.