Mark Estelle, IOS-0744800, Auxin Signaling in the Early Diverged Land Plant Physcomitrella patens.
Many aspects of plant growth and development are regulated by a hormone called auxin. Traits such as plant stature, flower development, and fruit and seed development are influenced by auxin. The hormone regulates these processes by influencing plant cell division and expansion. During the last decade there have been several important advances in our understanding of auxin signaling. However, there are still many unanswered questions. In particular there is little information on how auxin affects cell growth. In addition, the role of auxin in key events during plant evolution is largely unknown. To address these questions, studies of the moss Physcomitrella patens will be conducted. Because growth and development of the mosses is relatively simple compared to flowering plants their study offers some important advantages. In addition, the mosses are some of the earliest land plants to appear on earth. Therefore understanding how auxin works in P. patens will contribute to knowledge of the role of auxin during plant evolution.
To achieve these goals, moss genes involved in auxin signaling will be identified based on their similarity to known genes in flowering plants. Moss plants with mutations in these genes will be generated and the effects of the mutations on growth will be analyzed. The biochemical characteristics of auxin receptors from moss will be determined. This information will help to establish fundamental rules for auxin receptor function.
The proposed project will have broader impact in several areas such as the training of postdoctoral fellows and undergraduate students, participation of initiatives for maximizing student diversity, and involvement with outreach programs to local communities.