Division of Plant Pathology and Microbiology in Plant Sciences Department
Research project:
Synchronized cell cycle in the root cap meristem

Based on recognition of its structural and physiological complexity, at least fifteen percent of the plant genome is predicted to be dedicated to cell wall metabolism. To date, however, understanding how these genes are integrated into a coordinated network is limited. We have established a nondestructive method for the synchronized, coordinate and nearly instantaneous induction of genes needed for cell wall metabolism. The inducible root cap (right) allows us to 'catch cell walls in the act' of being produced in a localized group of cells during a defined temporal window. We now have placed more than a dozen genes within cell tiers known to be involved in specific stages of cell development and differentiation. The data indicate that the system constitutes a predictive in vivo framework allowing 'functional assays in which the entire process can be reconstituted and the specific roles played by each gene product clarified' (Delmer, et al. 2000. Israel J Plant Sci 48: 165-171) for the many genes whose role in cell wall synthesis, maturation, and turnover is now only speculative.
For more information: Dr. Martha Hawes, mhawes@u.arizona.edu
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