Multicellular organisms require precise coordination of cell division and differentiation to ensure organized development. Plants have evolved a unique structure called the meristem, which consists of a pool of stem cells that divide and renew themselves continuously. The shoot apical meristem, which is formed during embryogenesis, plays a central role in generating postembryonic shoot organs such as leaves, stems and flowers. Focusing on key regulatory genes, we study how the shoot apical meristem is formed and maintained during the plant life cycle, and how the activities of these regulatory genes affect tissue morphology and behaviors.
On the other hand, plants sometimes produce gall-like structures induced by a number of other organisms, such as the root nodules induced by Rhizobium, and the galls induced by plant parasitic nematodes or insects. Parasites and symbiotes induce different types of plant responses, and sometimes they hijack the plant’s endogenous signaling pathways for their own purposes. For example, plant parasitic nematodes utilize root formation-related signaling pathways to induce cell division and form gall from pre-vascular cells to survive in plant roots. Furthermore, cell wall compositions are often modified in response to such developmental reprogramming during these biotic interactions.
In this Research Unit, Plant Cell and Developmental Biology, we characterize the molecular and physical mechanisms that contribute to plant development and plant–parasitic nematodes interactions using genetic, biochemical, physiological approaches. From a technical point of view, image analyses can be quite useful to mine valuable information from high-dimensional microscopic images. As such, we are also currently developing original image analysis tools tailored for experimental plant cell and developmental biologists.
Satoru Nakagami, Tsuyoshi Aoyama, Yoshikatsu Sato, Taiki Kajiwara, Takashi Ishida, Shinichiro Sawa, CLE3 and its homologs share overlapping functions in the modulation of lateral root formation through CLV1 and BAM1 in Arabidopsis thaliana, The Plant Journal (2023), https://doi.org/10.1111/tpj.16103