Genetic control of polar lignin deposition
The project will be supervised by Angela Hay at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.
Cardamine fruit use an explosive mechanism to disperse their seeds. This morphomechanical innovation evolved in Cardamine, and differs dramatically from the non-explosive fruit found in the model species Arabidopsis. During explosive dispersal, the two fruit valves coil rapidly, accelerating the seeds at speeds greater than 10 m/s to disperse over a large area. The goal of this project is to investigate the genetic basis of explosive seed dispersal. It builds on the key finding that an asymmetric pattern of lignin deposition in a single cell layer of the fruit valve is necessary for explosive coiling. Moreover, this lignin pattern is strictly associated with the evolutionary novelty of explosive seed dispersal in Cardamine. Therefore, this project sets out to identify the genetic basis for polar lignin deposition in explosive fruit. It takes advantage of a set of mutants in Cardamine hirsuta with disrupted lignin polarity. A mapping-by-sequencing approach will be used to identify the genes underlying these mutant phenotypes. Developmental genetics and cell biology approaches will be used to characterize the role of these genes in localised lignin deposition. Findings from this project will be important to understand the genetic basis of polar lignin deposition and its role in explosive seed dispersal.
Key publication: Perez-Anton et al. Explosive seed dispersal depends on SPL7 to ensure sufficient copper for localized lignin deposition via laccases. PNAS, 119: e2202287119 (2022). doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2202287119
Link to the Hay group homepage: https://www.mpipz.mpg.de/hay