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Inducible Cell-Specific Activation Tagging of Genes Affecting Reproduction in Arabidopsis thaliana

Applicant Curtis Mark
Number 100281
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Pflanzen- und Mikrobiologie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Embryology, Developmental Biology
Start/End 01.08.2003 - 31.07.2006
Approved amount 161'990.00
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Keywords (5)

apomixis; apomeiosis; parthenogenesis; transactivation; gene-tagging

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Flowering plants generally reproduce sexually, generating progeny through double fertilisation of the egg and central cell. Some flowering plants reproduce without sex employing an alternative, closely related, asexual reproductive strategy, known as apomixis. This deviation from sexual reproduction avoids meiosis (reductional division) and fertilisation and is thought to have evolved from the spatial and temporal deregulation of the sexual processes. More specifically (i) meiosis is circumvented (apomeiosis); (ii) the egg is activated without fertilisation (parthenogenesis); and (iii) functional endosperm is produced. These elements of apomixis are likely to depend on de-regulated gene expression in the nucellus (apomeiosis), the egg cell (parthenogenesis), and the central cell in apomicts that produce autonomous endosperm. Harnessing apomictic technology will permit the development of crop plants that allow agriculture to benefit from the indefinite fixation of hybrid vigour, since apomictic progeny are maternal clones.Experimentally, biological processes can be deregulated using mutagenic approaches, such as mis-expression, silencing or mutation. Since apomixis is a dominant trait, we will adopt a gain-of-function approach to deregulate gene expression in specific cell-types important for reproductive development. We will develop a two-component system that provides reliable, conditional gene activation.The early nucellus and egg cell will be targeted to mis-express tagged genes. An inducible chimeric transcription factor will be expressed in the either early nucellus or the egg cell. Randomly tagged genes will be transactivated in these tissues and plants screened for apomictic qualities. Apomeiotic mutants are likely to be either sterile or produce triploid (3n) progeny after fertilisation. Sterility is easily assayed and triploids can be identified using a simple flow cytometry screen. Parthenogenetic mutants will be isolated using a conditionally male sterile Arabidopsis line. Plants showing aspects of seed development under conditions favouring male sterility will identify genes that, when mis-expressed, produce parthenogenetic qualities.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
113579 Inducible cell-specific activation tagging of genes affecting reproductive development in Arabidopsis thaliana 01.10.2006 Project funding (Div. I-III)