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"Meeting the Deadline: The Molecular Regulation of Programmed Cell Death During Plant Development"

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Monday 19 March 2018, 11:00 - 12:30


Programmed cell death (PCD) is a fundamental cellular process leading to the actively organized suicide of a cell. An abundance of cell death processes occur throughout plant development and during the plant’s responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Evidence suggests that the correct initiation and execution of PCD is crucial for plant growth, reproduction, and fitness. In comparison to some types of animal PCD such as apoptosis, still only little is known about the molecular regulation of PCD in plants.
We investigate the molecular regulation of cell death processes during vegetative and generative plant development. We have taken a meta-analysis approach on an extensive compendium of cell death related publicly available transcriptome data sets. Our results suggest that there is little conservation between environmentally induced cell death (ePCD) and developmentally controlled cell death (dPCD) processes on the gene regulation level. However, there exists a core of genes that are commonly upregulated between different established and putative dPCD types. Taking these putative dPCD marker genes as a lead, we have established a set of dPCD model systems to investigate both conserved as well as distinct molecular pathways controlling dPCD in plants.
PCD still being a frontier of plant developmental research, we are focusing on tackling unresolved fundamental questions about the regulation of developmental PCD in plants: How do cells acquire PCD competency during differentiation? Which cell physiological signals trigger PCD execution at just the right moment? What are the actual mechanisms that disrupt the vital functions of a plant cell? We are obtaining answers to these questions through a comprehensive strategy combining cell-type specific transcriptomics, forward and reverse genetics, advanced live-cell imaging, biochemistry, cell physiological approaches, and computational modeling.
Fundamental research on plant PCD will not only enable us to understand cell death as a central biological principle, but also create new leads to tap the so far underexploited potential of PCD in agricultural applications.
Location Jozef Schell Seminar Room
Contact Prof Moritz Nowack
VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology