The research unit on “Chromatin and Growth Control” headed by Mieke Van Lijsebettens focuses on epigenetic and chromatin-related control of growth in Arabidopsis and yield in crops. Complex traits such as plant growth and seed yield are determined by multiple gene activities that contribute to the trait to some extent in specific environmental conditions; we use mutational analysis and epiline selection to identify novel genes or networks that function in growth and yield.
The chromatin state at RNA PII transcript elongation is an important regulatory process in plant growth and development. The conserved Elongator histone H3 acetyl transferase complex and the HUB1 histone H2B monoubiquitination E3 ligase were identified by leaf growth mutants in a mutational analysis programme in Arabidopsis, they activate transcription by changing the chromatin state making the DNA template more accessible for the elongating RNA PII. We study the upstream regulation, target gene specificity, downstream pathways and environmental interaction of these complexes.
Energy use in plants is an important component of yield stability in the field under varying environmental conditions. Epilines were selected in canola and rice using energy use efficiency and seed yield in the field as parameters. Transcriptome, methylome and histone modifications are analyzed in order to identify underlying putative epialleles and networks.
A maize transformation platform is in place for basic and translational research. The transformation efficiency has been improved and the toolbox extended, which allows a higher throughput of constructs and makes the system more versatile.