MPIPZ post-doc wins price for best talk


May 20, 2024

Aurélia Emonet, postdoc within the research group of Angela Hay, receives a price for the best talk at the Mendel Early Career Symposium 2024.

For the third time the Mendel Early Career Symposium took place at the Vienna Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI) in May 2024.

The symposium aims to provide a platform for early career researchers to share their findings and foster connections within a welcoming atmosphere. Over two days of face-to-face interaction, PhD students, postdocs, and junior group leaders/assistant professors gather together to discuss into the latest discoveries across all facets of plant science.

Aurélia presented her work on the function of REVOLUTA, a transcription factor controlling tissue polarity, within the framework of lignin patterning and evolutionary transitions in explosive fruits.

Adaptations for seed dispersal can be found all around us – from the fleshy fruit you eat, to the dandelions you blow on. Cardamine species spread their seeds by explosive dispersal, a trait innovation that distinguishes this genus from the rest of the Brassicaceae family. Explosive dispersal relies on a unique pattern of lignin that is deposited asymmetrically in a single cell layer found on the adaxial side of the fruit valve called the endocarp b. Genetic analysis in Cardamine hirsuta, together with mathematical modelling and phylogenetic comparisons, have shown that this specific lignin pattern is necessary for seed pods to explode and is strictly associated with the evolution of this trait.

To investigate the genetic basis of polar lignin patterning and whether such genes play a role in evolutionary transitions between non-explosive and explosive fruit, the team around Angela Hay developed Cardamine chenopodiifolia as a novel experimental system. C. chenopodiifolia is amphicarpic: above ground it bears explosive fruit with polar lignin deposition, while underground it develops non-explosive fruit with uniform lignification. The group uses this comparative system to identify differentially expressed transcripts between explosive and non-explosive fruit and potential gene functions in the evolution and development of explosive fruit.

"I am really honoured to have received this award. Thanks to the GMI for organizing such a fantastic conference and providing a platform for sharing our work."

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