Eight thale cress seedlings with adventitious and primary roots in front of black backgroundThale cress seedlings with adventitous (indicated by the arrow) and primary roots (below the dotted line)

Plants can regenerate new roots on stem cuttings, a characteristic that is widely used in agriculture and forestry to propagate plants. What are the underlying molecular processes controlling the formation of such adventitious roots? Catherine Bellini, group leader at UPSC and professor at Umeå University, will investigate this question in her new project that got this week granted by the Swedish Research Council. Her focus will be on how light together with plant hormones interact to regulate gene expression during the initiation of adventitious roots.

Understanding which factors control the initiation of adventitious roots is one of Catherine Bellini’s main research areas. She and her group have looked deep into the molecular regulation of this process and added a lot of details to the complex regulation puzzle. They identified several genes as well as transcription factors, proteins that activate genes, that are regulating the formation of adventitious roots and figured out which and how different plant hormones cooperate with each other in this process.

Recently, Catherine Bellini’s group confirmed that the transcription factors regulating adventitious root development in thale cress perform a similar role in poplar and probably in Norway spruce. While exploring how light regulates gene activity during adventitious root formation, they could show that red light promotes adventitious root initiation in Norway spruce by inhibiting stress induced plant hormones.

“The results from the tree model species reassured us that we are on the right track with our basic research in thale cress,” says Catherine Bellini. “Thanks to the funding from the Swedish Research Council, we can now continue to research in this direction and investigate the role of the identified candidate genes further. Our results will hopefully help in the future to improve vegetative propagation in horticulture and forest species.”

Focussing on thale cress, Catherine and her group do not only want to understand better how gene activity is regulated during adventitious root formation. They also plan to follow up on their previous findings that certain subunits of the multi-protein complex COP9 signalosome play a significant role in this process. This complex exists not only in plants but also in many other organisms like fungi and human and controls which proteins are labelled for degradation. The molecular details of this regulation on the protein level are not well understood yet and that is what Catherine Bellini wants to investigate further.

Link to the announcement from the Swedish Research Council

More information:

Catherine Bellini
Umeå Plant Science Centre
Department of Plant Physiology
Umeå University
Phone: +46 (0)90 786 9624
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