General overview

Morphogenetics is aimed at understanding how shape and architecture in plants are controlled by genes during development.

To do so, we will study the spatio-temporal relationship between genetic regulation and plant shape utilizing recently developed imaging techniques together with molecular genetics and computational modeling. Rather than concentrating on the molecular networks, the project will study plant development across scales. In this context we will focus on the Arabidopsis flower, currently one of the best-characterised plant systems.

Three major research directions :

  • Through quantitative live-imaging analysis at cellular resolution we will determine how specific gene functions affect both growth patterns and the expression of other key regulators. In particular, by using induced gene disruption together with careful live-imaging analysis, we will obtain dynamic, quantitative and causal data that link gene expression and molecular interactions to morphogenesis at a higher scale.
  • We will integrate the results generated from these experiments in a specially designed database.
  • We will use these detailed, multidimensional data as direct input to new predictive computational models for morphogenesis and gene regulation that will then be further tested through subsequent rounds of experimental perturbation and analysis.

By iterating this experimental-theoretical loop we will continuously refine our models toward a three- dimensional (3D) “virtual flower” at different resolutions, from cells to entire plants. This model will integrate our descriptive data with a causal understanding.