Group leader at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (Vienna), will give a talk on Thursday, July 21, at 12:15, in seminar room N11. His seminar is entitled: <strong>„Exploring the Molecular Basis of Natural Variation in Root Development“</strong>
Key to understanding development is the characterization of the regulatory networks that govern developmental processes. The root of Arabidopsis thaliana has proved to be an excellent model system for studying such complex phenomena and elucidating their genetic bases. Using forward genetic approaches, remarkable progress has been made in understanding how root development is regulated at the molecular level. Typically, it appears that development is governed by regulatory networks, rather than single genes, and that these networks exhibit robustness due to redundancy and complex regulatory loops. However, it is difficult to identify multiple components of these complex networks using traditional forward genetics methods. A promising experimental avenue is to exploit natural variation and conduct genome wide association studies to identify genes and gene networks that regulate development.
We are using high throughput image acquisition and automated analysis to monitor root growth and quantify novel, dynamic traits for root development in several hundred natural Arabidopsis accessions. We determine those traits at different resolutions from whole root to cellular level. We have identified variation at a broad scale between the Arabidopsis accession during root development at the scale of the whole organ as well as at the cellular level. We use those quantitative traits to conduct genome wide association mapping, thereby making use of the available sequencing and genotyping data. The genomic regions associated with specific traits are globally analyzed to infer biological pathways that are involved in natural variation of root development. Furthermore, the involvement of specific genes in the phenotypic variation will be studied. Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of development and their patterns of adaptive variation.