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"Increasing root branching plasticity: lessons from evolution"

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Thursday 27 September 2018, 11:00 - 12:30


Root architecture is a trait that strongly contributes to the performance of plants. The way plant root systems colonize the soil will be determinative for the all or not thriving growth of the above ground parts. Because plants are sessile organisms, the exploration of soil in search of water and nutrients is mainly dependent on steering and controlling cell division and elongation. Early land plants survived on land without roots and the soil has been gradually conquered through a stepwise optimization of their below ground parts. Modern plants have established a strategy of lateral branching and show an educated level of plasticity allowing them to respond to changing edaphic conditions by adjusting cell division and elongation. The secret behind the plasticity can be found in the presence of an endogenous tissue layer in which, on a regular basis, stem cells with high cell division competence are deposited representing a powerful instrument through which plants can easily generate new lateral root branches. These branches are not arbitrarily formed along a root axis, but their spacing is rather determined by an endogenous patterning mechanism that guarantees an even distribution of lateral organs over the entire length of the root. New insights in this patterning mechanism will be discussed and by going back in time through the study of an extant relative of the early land plants a hypothesis will be put forward how the lateral branching strategy arose through evolution.

Location Jozef Schell Seminar Room
Contact Prof Tom Beeckman
VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology