Strigolactones (SLs) are newly discovered plant hormones that influence diverse aspects of plant growth and its interaction with the environment. For instance, through fine-tuning of shoot branching, SLs impact plant yield and persistence. Additionally, by controlling arbuscular mycorrhization, they aid to overcome phosphorous deprivation. SLs also induce parasitic weed germination and are thus indirectly implicated in world-wide crop losses. The molecular basis of SL perception and signaling is an undiscovered field that is anticipated to have important agronomical implications.
We are a new group in the PBS department and aim at resolving SL signaling networks making use of the expertise of the lab. Tandem affinity purification will be used to discover new components of the SL signaling mechanism. Subsequently, extended functional analyses will specify the processes in which the newly identified components are involved.
In a next step, we intend to translate the new knowledge to economically relevant models and crops. As an example, the information gained in Arabidopsis will be transferred to the legume Medicago truncatula, because this model is close to important crop legumes and because it will enable us to study the importance of SLs in arbuscular mycorrhization and nodulation, two interactions of legume plants by which the plants easily gain access to respectively phosphorous and nitrogen compounds.
We also plan to broaden the array of applications in which SLs might be of use. SLs might be involved in many more adaptive growth responses of the plant. Especially its functions in the root is still undiscovered.