Plant Vascular Development - A. Rodriguez-Villalon
Our research team has a general interest in understanding the mechanisms by which cells acquire their final fate.
In multicellular organisms, cell differentiation involves drastic changes in cell’s morphology, physiology and size in comparison to the stem cell from which they are derived. An extreme example of cell differentiation is the developmental program that shapes phloem tissues. Together with the xylem, both tissues compose the vascular system of higher plants, a long-distance network that transports water and nutrients to sustain plant life. In order to become conductive elements, protophloem cells eliminate their nucleus, most of their organelles and build up a thicker cell wall. We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms by which the phosphoinositides (PIs), a group of lipid signaling compounds, act as protophloem regulators. Our research aims at: i) understanding how PIs regulate organelles degradation within protophloem cells; ii) establishing a PI-related functional signaling network and its function in determining cell fate decisions.
The function of the PIs at controlling cell differentiation will be studied by using cell biology, biochemical and genetic approaches in root protophloem strands of Arabidopsis thaliana, our model system. Understanding how protophloem cells differentiate will improve our knowledge in how different factors pattern cell fate decisions.