GV PROMETEO/2009/112, 2009-2013

Principal investigator: José Luis Micol.
Investigator: María Rosa Ponce.
Graduate student: Ana Belén Sánchez García.
Instituto de Bioingeniería, Universidad Miguel Hernández.

Clonal analysis of the effects of embryonic lethal mutations on Arabidopsis vegetative development

The genome of Arabidopsis thaliana contains hundreds of genes that are required for embryonic and/or gametophytic development, as deduced from the lethality caused by their loss-of-function mutations. Although many embryo-lethal genes are also expressed in other stages of plant growth, their postembryonic functions cannot be studied by conventional methods since the mutants die at early stages of development. There are at least four approaches to attempt to solve this problem: one is clonal analysis, which enables the study of the phenotype of embryonic lethal mutations in groups of cells of adult plants; the second approach involves massive sowings of seeds with lethal genotypes, hoping to find some escapers that have passed the phenocritical phase in which the function of the gene under study is essential; the third is the design and synthesis of molecules of artificial microRNAs (amiRNAs) designed against the gene under study, expression of which will be inhibited to different extents in different transgenic lines carrying the same amiRNA-producing transgene; in addition, a large allelic series of the gene under study might include at least a mild allele that does not cause embryonic lethality. We will follow these four strategies in this project.