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Inducible cell-specific activation tagging of genes affecting reproductive development in Arabidopsis thaliana

English title Inducible cell-specific activation tagging of genes affecting reproductive development in Arabidopsis thaliana
Applicant Grossniklaus Ueli
Number 113579
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut für Pflanzen- und Mikrobiologie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Embryology, Developmental Biology
Start/End 01.10.2006 - 30.04.2010
Approved amount 273'466.00
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Keywords (5)

apomixis; egg apparatus; parthenogenesis; transactivation; gene-tagging

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Most flowering plants reproduce sexually, their progeny resulting from the fertilisation of the egg and central cells in a process known as double fertilisation. Apomictic plants employ an alternative, closely related, asexual reproductive strategy, in which the progeny are produced in the absence of reduction (meiosis) and fertilisation. This deviation from sexual reproduction is thought to have evolved from the spatial and temporal deregulation of the sexual processes. In apomictic reproduction, deregulated sexual development results from (i) the circumvention of meiotic reduction (apomeiosis); (ii) the activation of the egg without fertilisation (parthenogenesis); and (iii) the production of functional endosperm. 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 those apomicts that produce autonomous endosperm. Understanding which genes can be deregulated both spatially or temporally to provide elements of apomixis will permit the development of crop plants with modifications that allow agriculture to benefit from the indefinite fixation of hybrid vigour.
Experimentally, biological processes can be deregulated using mutagenic approaches, such as mis-expression, silencing or mutation. Since apomixis is a dominant trait, we have adopted a gain-of-function approach to deregulate gene expression in specific cell-types important for reproductive development. We have developed a two-component system that provides reliable, conditional gene activation.
To validate our methodology, we have used a variety of promoters/enhancers, each with different tissue specificities, including the vascular tissue, trichomes, roots and reproductive tissues. Expression patterns are faithfully replicated in independent transgenic plant lines, demonstrating that activator plant lines can be constructed from previously characterized promoters or enhancers and can also be used to induce reliable ectopic gene expression in specific tissue types. This system provides a valuable and unique tool by which to screen for individuals that show aspects of apomixis. Genes identified in screens showing elements of apomictic reproductive development when mis-expressed will be characterized further at both the genetic and molecular level.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
100281 Inducible Cell-Specific Activation Tagging of Genes Affecting Reproduction in Arabidopsis thaliana 01.08.2003 Project funding