Modelling growth and gene regulation in floral organs

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office

Abstract

Systems biology aims to predict the behaviour of complex biological systems by quantitative modeling of the interactions between the relevant components. Developmental biology is an excellent subject such an approach, because in many cases key regulatory genes have been individually characterized but their collective behaviour is poorly understood. Moreover, the mechanism by which growth patterns are controlled by regulatory genes to achieve the genetically determined shape of organs is central to the systems question of how multiple parallel processes are coordinated in space and time. Floral organ development offers important advantages to address these questions. First, intensive genetic analysis has identified a network of genes that control organ identity, organ number, boundaries between organs and local patterning. Second, tools for quantitative analysis of plant organ growth have been established with cellular and supracellular resolution. The next challenge is how to integrate growth analysis with the role of regulatory genes to produce predictive models of floral organ growth and patterning. This project brings together leading UK and French teams with complementary expertise in imaging, floral development and quantitative modeling, to model sepal and petal development in Arabidopsis. We will use live imaging and sector analysis to produce quantitative models of growth for these organs. To relate growth patterns to the activity of regulatory genes, we will analyse the effects on growth of activating organ identity genes at different times and in different regions of the developing organs. We will integrate information on regulatory genes with spatial information to produce in silico models of the regulatory network controlling sepal and petal development. The quality of these models will be assessed by their ability i) to integrate in a consistent manner the various sources of knowledge about flower development, and ii) to be tested experimentally.

Publications

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