HEteroblasty MOdelling: the TImetable of ONtogeny in Arabidopsis Leaves

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

Abstract

The diversity of forms in nature raises questions on the mechanisms by which these forms originate. In many plant species, variations in leaf shape and size between juvenile and adult leaves accompany the acquisition of reproductive competence. This is termed heteroblasty. The canonical molecular pathway controlling heteroblasty has been recently described. It is topped by miR156, a miRNA which acts as a master switch to prevent the adult behaviour through the repression of transcription factors. However, the way how these genes control the growth patterns by which heteroblastic forms arise remains unknown. We propose to study the dynamics of heteroblasty establishment in Arabidopsis, by combining the knowledge acquired in molecular biology on the control of heteroblasty with the expertise on modelling of leaf growth in the group. Preliminary results suggest that the heteroblastic changes in leaf shape are ruled by the miR156 pathway until a certain leaf developmental stage, while the changes in leaf size are conditional on plant’s capacity to exploit its environmental resources. To test this hypothesis, we will i) use a modelling platform developed in the group to compare quantitatively the early growth pattern of leaf 6 (adult) with the one of leaf 1 (juvenile), ii) develop an inducible line to analyze and model the spatiotemporal effects of the miR156 pathway in these early growth patterns, iii) modify the environment during leaf 6 development to analyze the plasticity of this leaf, and iv) analyze and disturb the expression of miR156 during leaf 6 development to question the involvement of the miR156 pathway in the control of final shape and size of this leaf. Through a combination of developmental, physiological and modelling approaches, this integrative analysis of heteroblasty will generate fundamental knowledge on leaf growth, a key target for breeding robust crops within a changing world.

Publications

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Coen E (2017) On genes and form. in Development (Cambridge, England)

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Whitewoods CD (2017) Growth and Development of Three-Dimensional Plant Form. in Current biology : CB

 
Description We have established the rules by which cells in a growing leaf divide and how growth and shape may vary according to environmental condition, leading to a pubilication in PLoS Biology.
Exploitation Route Knowing how divisions and growth are controlled may help with tailoring leaf shape and size to environmental conditions.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description The paper on spatiotemporal patterns of leaf growth (PLoS Biology) led to significant coverage on social media (Facebook, Twitter) and to a well-received video explaining the relationship between growth and division to a broad public.
First Year Of Impact 2018
 
Description Article STEMM Champion: Sam Fox 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor article about Sam Fox (Coen Lab) as a STEMM Champion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.techcorridor.co.uk/articles/tech-corridor-women-in-steam-the-scientists/
 
Description Chelsea Flower Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 157 000 attendees at the Chelsea Flower Show had the opportunity to Engage with our research at our Silver Award Winning Exhibition at the Chelsea flower show.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://genetics.org.uk/news/centenary-garden-exhibit-at-chelsea-flower-show-2019/
 
Description Interview article in school science magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Sam Fox was interviewed for an article in a school magazine on the 7th March 2018. The interview was about her job as a plant scientist and the route educationally she took to get into that role.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Norwich Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Engagement activities with Norwich Science Festival on how genetics influences how plants grow and plant form
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Press release: "How Snapdragons keep their colour: signposting trick reveals evolutionary mechanism" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was completed on the story and released to the John Innes Centre website with a link to collaborators and the paper. The story was also then promoted via the social media platform including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To promote the story further distribution platforms including 'Eurekaalert' (for a science specific audience) and 'Vuelio' (for a more general audience) were used. Own contacts were also followed up including local news reporters to ensure the paper and story was well publicised. The press release led to the following articles:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/science/snapdragons-colors-genes.html

https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/environment/norwich-scientists-discovery-of-genetic-gymnastics-in-snapdragons-brings-new-insight-into-evolution-1-5294260

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/snapdragons-spanish-pyrenees

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116142146.htm
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/news/how-snapdragons-keep-their-colour-signposting-trick-reveals-evolutionary-...
 
Description Press release: "How Snapdragons keep their colour: signposting trick reveals evolutionary mechanism" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was completed on the story and released to the John Innes Centre website with a link to collaborators and the paper. The story was also then promoted via the social media platform including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To promote the story further distribution platforms including 'Eurekaalert' (for a science specific audience) and 'Vuelio' (for a more general audience) were used. Own contacts were also followed up including local news reporters to ensure the paper and story was well publicised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/news/how-snapdragons-keep-their-colour-signposting-trick-reveals-evolutionary-...
 
Description Press release: "Leap forward in understanding plant organ growth" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was completed on the story and released to the John Innes Centre website with a link to collaborators and the paper. The story was also then promoted via the social media platform including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To promote the story further distribution platforms including 'Eurekaalert' (for a science specific audience) and 'Vuelio' (for a more general audience) were used. Own contacts were also followed up including local news reporters to ensure the paper and story was well publicised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/press-release/new-model-is-a-leap-forward-in-understanding-plant-organ-growth/
 
Description Press release: "Leaves possess a molecular compass" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was completed on the story and released to the John Innes Centre website with a link to collaborators and the paper. The story was also then promoted via the social media platform including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To promote the story further distribution platforms including 'Eurekaalert' (for a science specific audience) and 'Vuelio' (for a more general audience) were used. Own contacts were also followed up including local news reporters to ensure the paper and story was well publicised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/news/leaves-possess-a-molecular-compass/
 
Description Press release: "Snapdragon enters the genomic age" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was completed on the story and released to the John Innes Centre website with a link to collaborators and the paper. The story was also then promoted via the social media platform including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To promote the story further distribution platforms including 'Eurekaalert' (for a science specific audience) and 'Vuelio' (for a more general audience) were used. Own contacts were also followed up including local news reporters to ensure the paper and story was well publicised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/press-release/snapdragon-enters-the-genomic-age/
 
Description Science Cafe Public talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Enrico Coen and Scott Boden gave a joint Science Cafe talk entitled 'Cereals and Snapdragons' to the general public in Oct 2018 as a part of the Norwich Science Festival.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Skype interview with MSc student from Central St Martins University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Discussions and advice on carnivorous plants, our research and scientific thinking for creation of an installation exploring plants in the environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Smithsonian magazine coverage of modelling work on how plants make leaves 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Coverage of our Science publication on understanding how leaf shape evolved through the study of carnivorous plants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/deciphering-how-plant-genes-drive-weird-wonderful-dive...
 
Description Soapbox Science Norwich Science Festival: how plants shape their leaves 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On the 27th October 2018 Beccy Horn in the Coen Lab stood on a raised platform in Norwich City Centre and spoke to the genral public about their research that understands how the different shapes of leaves are formed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit to home educated students 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Science discussion with home educated school children
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Women of the Future 2017 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The 3rd Women of the Future Conference took place on Wednesday 29th November 2017. 170 young girls from 17 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk attended the unique event. The event is specifically aimed at Year 10 girls, and aims to raise aspirations, broaden horizons and facilitate engagement with world class scientists and leaders and promote careers in STEMM subjects.

The lack of women in STEMM careers continues to be a real cause for concern for employers.

At the John Innes Centre we are committed to promoting equality and diversity for all our staff and students and in addition recognise the importance of inspiring the next generation of female STEMM professionals.

Having first been launched in 2015, this year's event built on the success of the previous two conferences, giving the participants a great chance to meet and speak with more than 27 female role models and exhibitors from a diverse range of industries.

There was also fascinating line-up of speakers that included science author and presenter Dr Emily Grossman, Senior Advisor for Medical Applications at CERN Dr Manjit Dosanjh, and JIC Research Fellow Dr Philippa Borrill.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/blog/women-of-the-future-2017/
 
Description Women of the Future Conference 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Women of the Future 2018 event took place with 200 girls from yr 10 (14-15 yr olds)

5 GEN female people involved:
-Speakers Jemima Brinton & Mikhaela Neequaye (Jemima is a researcher in crop genetics, Mikhaela is a Phd student in food nutrition). Science Chat on the Sofa with Speakers (Auditorium) -Chaired by Samantha Fox
-Closing Remarks - Samantha Fox
-Meet a professional session: Mikhaela Neequaye, Natalie Wager, Jess Hughes, Penny Hundleby
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/blog/the-story-of-women-of-the-future-2018/
 
Description Year 10 Science Camp 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We introduced year 10 science students to life as a scientist and working in our labs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/training-careers/work-experience/year-10-science-camp/
 
Description YouTube video created: Evolutionary Genetics of Snapdragons 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'A Flying Visit to the Antirrhinum Hybrid Zone in the Pyrenees'
Take a tour through the hybrid zone in the Pyrenees where a population of magenta Antirrhinum pseudomajus on the east meets a yellow Antirrhinum striatum population to the west and form a rainbow of hybrid flowers over a 1km stretch. Read about how our study of this region revealed how small RNA helps maintain diversity in the region. The video creates interest and communicates to the general public the research that takes place in the Coen Lab.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muP7fSn1eaE&feature=youtu.be
 
Description YouTube video: movie explaining the relationship between growth and division in plants 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Sam Fox (Coen Lab) and Ruby O'grady in our communications team created a video explaining the relationship between growth and division in plants after a new model was published. The video had 1587 views from the JIC tweet alone on 13.03.19 and another 250 on the JIC YouTube Channel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvXBYL7WUDA
 
Description Youth STEMM Award mid-term conference 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 80 students from 8 schools in Norfolk and Suffolk attended the Youth STEMM award mid-term conference on the 26th February 2019. There were 2 talks from John Innes Centre scientists and 10 interactive stands including the Coen Lab, who displayed a range of plants and research, explaining to the students what they do for their job. Feedback from the event indicated that 95% of those that completed a feedback form (53/80) felt the event was informative as it highlighted a range of different STEMM careers out there. 80% said the event had made them inspired to pursue a STEMM related career, or take a STEMM subject at higher education. ""This exhibit has inspired me to take a higher education level in biology or as a job."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Youth STEMM Mid Term conference 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact On the 6th March 12 schools with 146 students (aged 13-17) participated in the YSA midterm conference at the JIC Conference Centre. The event had a combination of science talks and interactive activities as a part of the STEMM showcase. The Coen lab exhibited their research on evolution, development of shape and form and genetics at the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018