Plant life strategy is marked by acquisition of highly flexible development that adapts plants’ phenotype to the environment. Various environmental signals are integrated into the endogenous signalling networks involving the versatile phytohormone auxin. The intercellular auxin transport mediates a large variety of adaptive plant growth responses. Subcellular polar distribution of PIN auxin transporters determines directionality of auxin flow and thus have potential to integrate internal and external signals via the redirection of auxin fluxes and translate them into modulation of development. Auxin transport thus represents a unique model for studying the functional link between basic cellular processes, such as vesicle trafficking and cell polarity, and their developmental outcome at the level of the multicellular organism.

We employ approaches of cell biology, molecular genetics and chemical genomics in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the directional throughput of auxin flow a integration of environmental signals into subcellular dynamics of PIN auxin transporters as well as endogenous feed-back regulations of this mechanism.

In our proposal, we will focus on four main research directions.

  1. Novel regulators of cell polarity identified by chemical genomics
  2. Cellular mechanisms of cell polarity maintenance
  3. Integration of signals into subcellular dynamics of auxin transport
  4. Mathematical modelling of regulatory circuits for adaptive development

The results will demonstrate the viability of genetics and chemical genomic approaches for addressing cell biological questions in plants, open new horizons in plant cell biology and plant hormone fields. The expected output has application potential for targeted modulation of plant development such as root or shoot architecture.

Project details

Project reference: 282300
EU contribution: EUR 1 500 000
Duration: From 2012-02-01 to 2017-01-31
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Contract type: ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant
Principal investigator: Prof. Jiří Friml