EC HPRN-CT-2002-00267, 2002-2005


  • Mieke Van Lijsebettens; Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, Gent, Belgium


  • Cathie Martin; Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, UK.
  • Cris Kuhlemeier; Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland.
  • José Luis Micol; Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Spain.
  • Christine Granier; Laboratoire d’Ecophysiologie des Plantes sous Stress Environnementaux, Institut National de La Recherche Agronomique, Montpellier, France.
  • Miltos Tsiantis; Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, UK
  • Willy Dillen; Cropdesign N.V., Gent, Belgium.

Development and growth of leaves: identification of genetic networks (DAGOLIGN)

The project aims at identifying the molecular components of the genetic networks controlling the architecture, growth and shape of leaves by using Arabidopsis as a model for simple leaf formation and its close relative Cardamine as a model for compound leaf formation. In Arabidopsis a set of 94 leaf mutant will form the core for high throughput positional cloning of growth and regulatory genes by using AFLP, INDEL and SNP molecular marker technology. Differential cDNA display on the leaf -inducible pin 1-1 Arabidopsis shoot apex will identify leaf architecture genes. A set of knockout and activation tagged Arabidopsis lines is available and will be screened for additional leaf phenotypes, some of the sequences of the insertion sites will be used for reversed genetics. The regulatory pathway controlled by the myb transcription factor, mybF23N20, with specific expression in the leaves will be analysed by using functional genomics tools. Genes that control compound leaf formation will be identified either in mutant screens or from the analysis of the KNOX pathway in Cardamine. The genetic networks themselves will be unravelled by investigation of the gene interactions at the genetic level. A model for growth in leaves using several parameters will be determined for simple and compound leaf wild types, which will enable to classify the mutants according to their growth defects.

Genome-wide gene expression analyses will be performed on wild type and mutants at different growth stages by micro-array analysis in order to describe the molecular pathways that are acting during a specific growth stage or that are induced or inactivated upon mutation. A knowledge database will be generated for the in depth study of genotype-phenotype relationships and will enable to build genetic models on leaf architecture, leaf growth and leaf shape. Genes will be selected from these studies to test their utility to improve leaf growth in the distantly related crop rice and to analyse the relationship between leaf morphology and yield.

The project presented here aims to develop contacts and exchange between groups involved in different disciplines such as environmental physiology, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology. The networking between the different partners relates to the training of the young researchers and the transfer of methods and techniques. Seven young pre- or postdoctoral researchers will receive training in a multi-disciplinary environment. Each partner is well equipped within one or more particular discipline (molecular biology, genetics, metabolite profiling, crop transformation, plant biochemistry and physiology, micromanipulation, ecophysiology and micrometeorological measurements), providing an interdisciplinary and complementary portfolio of skills to the young trainees. The trainees will be stimulated to communicate their results at meetings and workshops by oral presentations or poster abstracts. The industrial partner will introduce these young trainees into the applied research of product development, which will be beneficial for them to make job choices in the future.