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The molecular mechanism of plant morphogenesis

Applicant Fleming Andrew
Number 49337
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Botany
Start/End 01.04.1997 - 31.08.2001
Approved amount 500'696.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Molecular Biology

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Understanding how an organ is initiated at a particular time and place is a major problem in developmental biology. In plants, the generation of new leaves occurs in a precise pattern in a specialised organ, the shoot apical meristem. This pattern generation allows the prediction of the sites of subsequent leaf initiation (I1, I2...). Although it seems that transcription factors play a central role in laying down the plan of the meristem, how the blueprint of these molecular architects is transduced into changes in physical form (morphogenesis) is unknown. Our recent data show that a localised exogenous source of a protein component of the extracellular wall matrix (expansin) can induce morphogenesis on the apical meristem of tomato leading to the formation of leaf-like structures. Since expansin is thought to act as an effector of cell wall extensibility, these results support the still controversial hypothesis that biophysical stress patterns play a key role in morphogenesis. However, these data do not refute the proposed primary role of cell division in organogenesis.Indeed, the relative role of cell division and expansion in plant morphogenesis has become rather controversial, with some data indicating a strong correlation between cell division patterns and morphogenesis, whereas other experiments suggest that division is a secondary to organ expansion. My proposed research is centred on elucidating this problem,using the mechanism of leaf initiation as a model system.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
63570 The molecular mechanism of plant morphogenesis: Cell division andleaf morphology 01.09.2001 Project funding (Div. I-III)