The development of living things is dependent upon communication between different cells and tissues, to ensure that the formation of different parts of the organism occurs in an orderly and coordinated manner. A current challenge in the field of developmental biology is to define the specific signaling molecules that are used for this communication and to understand how they function. In this project, a newly discovered group of signaling molecules, known as germin-like proteins (GLPs), will be analyzed for their role in the formation and patterning of cells and tissues of plants. This work will take advantage of the Arabidopsis root as a simple and effective model organ for analyzing the molecular and genetic control of development by specific molecules. The GLPs will be tested for their involvement in the development of different cells and tissues, and for their interaction with specific receptor molecules. The results from this project are expected to provide new insights into the ways that cells and tissues communicate during development. Furthermore, this project has been designed to provide a rich interdisciplinary training experience for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, and it will establish a summer research program at the University of Michigan for students from Long Island University. In the long term, this project is expected to enable the rational design of plant structures to enhance plant productivity and growth under a variety of environmental conditions.