Comparative Genetics of SBP-box genes and genome editing

Prior to its integration into the department of Comparative Development and Genetics, research in the group primarily concerned the elucidation of the roles that SBP-domain transcription factors play in plant development.

Successively produced rosette leaves of hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) gradually change in morphology, a phenomenon known as heteroblasty and most clearly visible when the leaves are lined up in the order of emergence.

Following their discovery in research of the floral transition, members of the plant specific SBP-box gene family were shown to control developmental phase transitions, organ and fruit development, fertility, as well as copper homeostasis and pathogen response (see the group's publications and references therein).

Given their overall conservation in the plant kingdom and their prominent roles in decisive developmental phase changes in a plant's life cycle, SBP-box genes form likely targets in the evolution of plant diversification and ecological distribution. From this perspective, research on SBP-box genes is continued in the department of Comparative Development and Genetics within the frame of heterochrony and heteroblastic leaf development. Furthermore, current research of the group also supports and facilitates departmental studies linking differential intra- and inter-specific gene expression to adaptive evolution of phenotypic variation. In particular, the group utilizes microscopic and other imaging techniques to study the expression and function of selected genes of interest in relation to growth and development. In addition, emerging precision gene editing tools are adapted to efficiently target regulatory and coding sequences of genes of interest in order to unravel their role in phenotypic variation.

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