[Coloquio BIFI] Cell differentiation and patterning: a Systems Biology approach

Published on 2012-07-04 17:29 CEST

Speaker: Marta Ibañes (Universidad de Barcelona)

Date & location: Thursday 15th April 2010, 12:30 (CEST). Salón de Actos Edificio I+D, Campus Río Ebro

Recent examples in the literature show that interdisciplinary approaches that make use of molecular and cell biology experimental techniques, on the one hand, and of computational and theoretical tools borrowed from statistical and nonlinear physics, on the other hand, can help advancing our knowledge of muticellular organism development. During organism development, equivalent cells become differentiated and organize forming complex structures or patterns such as tissues and organs. How cell differentiation and patterning occurs in development? In this talk I will focus on the development of plant vascular tissue and will present our results concerning this process. The plant vascular system provides transport and support capabilities that are essential for plant growth and development. This system, which connects distant organs within a plant, is organized in a variety of different patterns. In the shoot inflorescence stem of plant model Arabidopsis thaliana, the vascular tissue is organized in periodic bundles. We have analyzed the control of the periodicity and size of this pattern by using an interdisciplinary approach that combines both cell biology and non-linear physics. Our results suggest that the plant hormone auxin is distributed in maxima to position vascular bundles. This pattern of auxin concentration is driven by anisotropic transport and does not depend strongly on auxin biosynthesis levels. Plant steroid hormones brassinosteroids dictate the size of the field of cells on which the pattern arises, modulating vascular bundle number. We expect that these results, together with recent knowledge acquired on other patterning processes like leaf venation and lateral organ positioning, will foster future research on design principles of plant patterning and development.

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