The shape of plants not only contributes to nature’s beauty, but also affects plant adaption to the environment and crop yield. Two key determinants of plant shape are stem height and the way the shoot branches.
Independent work at IGDB on shoot branching and at JIC on stem elongation converged on the same key regulatory gene, called ATH1. This gene functions very close to the apical meristem, a group of constantly dividing cells that is located at the shoot tip and supplies new cells to make leaves, flowers and the stem.
In this project, we will combine our resources and complementary technical expertise to test the hypothesis that both roles of ATH1 reflect a single function in controlling growth at the boundaries between the meristem and stem tissues. The project will uncover basic mechanisms that determine plant shape and that may be used to for crop improvement.