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GDCB Seminar: "Unveiling spatiotemporal control of root growth and development"

Feb 22, 2024 - 11:00 AM
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Speaker: Trevor Nolan, postdoctoral research associate in biology at Duke University

Title: "Unveiling spatiotemporal control of root growth and development"

Abstract: The Arabidopsis root is a tractable model to address the fundamental question of how the progeny of stem cells develop into differentiated tissues. To explore these processes, we constructed an integrated atlas of the Arabidopsis root using single-cell RNA-seq, which highlighted the continuous nature of development and provided new insights into cell identity acquisition (Shahan, et al., 2022, Developmental Cell). To investigate how cell identity and hormone signaling affect one another, I investigated responses to brassinosteroids, a group of plant steroid hormones. Brassinosteroids regulate diverse processes, such as cell division and cell elongation, through gene regulatory networks that vary in space and time. By using time-series single-cell RNA-sequencing to profile brassinosteroid-responsive gene expression specific to different cell types and developmental stages of the Arabidopsis root, I identified the elongating cortex as a site where brassinosteroids trigger a shift from proliferation to elongation associated with increased expression of cell wall-related genes (Nolan et al., 2023, Science). My analysis revealed HOMEOBOX FROM ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA 7 (HAT7) and GT-2-LIKE 1 (GTL1) as brassinosteroid-responsive transcription factors that regulate cortex cell elongation. These results establish the cortex as a site of brassinosteroid-mediated growth and unveil a brassinosteroid signaling network regulating the transition from proliferation to elongation, illuminating aspects of spatiotemporal hormone response. Going forward, I am interested in understanding how cells collectively coordinate and execute their developmental programs amidst the dynamic challenges of complex environments. My lab will investigate the molecular underpinnings of the spatiotemporal shift between proliferation and differentiation and the cell-cell communication required for organ development. To address these questions, we will leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as single-cell genomics, spatial transcriptomics, and large-scale CRISPR screening. Our findings will provide mechanistic insights into plant development and facilitate precise engineering of root structure and function.

Host: Dior Kelley, GDCB assistant professor