The use of long term laboratory experiments coupled with whole genome sequencing is currently proving a valuable tool for understanding the relationsh

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


Land plants produce desiccation-resistant structures which enable the transition between generations. The desiccation-resistant structure in seed plants is a multicellular seed, while in early-evolving land plants the functionally equivalent structure is the single-celled spore. Spores and seeds are key for ensuring species survival, particularly under adverse climatic conditions.
Regulation of seed germination in model plants such as Arabidopsis is relatively well understood at the molecular level, although fundamental knowledge gaps remain. By contrast, the control of spore germination is almost completely undetermined. Recent work in Arabidopsis suggests that a single phase of seed germination involves the co-ordinated regulation of evolutionarily ancient genes. Supporting this finding, the Coates lab has uncovered preliminary evidence that spores of the model early-evolving land plant Physcomitrella are regulated by many of the same environmental and hormonal signals that regulate seed germination, but that the molecular networks of interacting signals are "wired together" in a completely novel way. We also have evidence that a gibberellin-like signalling pathway analogous to that in flowering plants exists in Physcomitrella.
This project will use Physcomitrella to investigate the roles of genes in the moss gibberellin-like signalling pathway, examine the regulation of spore germination using high resolution imaging and investigate the effect of environmental signals on the hormone signalling pathway.
Uncovering a novel Physcomitrella germination network will potentially enable us to replace the endogenous germination-regulatory genes in seed plants with parts of the core Physcomitrella germination network, producing plants with a completely novel germination response to known environmental inputs, thus changing the ecological niches and environmental extremes in which they can survive.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1790897 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 03/10/2016 25/03/2021 Alexandros Phokas