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Title: “From plants to yeast and back again: synthetic biology and plant development”

Host: Zhenbiao Yang

Abstract: The fundamental building blocks of plant development—cell-cell communication, cellular differentiation, cell growth and proliferation—are shaped by complex gene regulatory networks, many of which depend on plant hormones. By recapitulating the Arabidopsis thaliana forward auxin signal transduction pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we have identified and analyzed the parameters of auxin response without interference from other components. This effort has revealed that members of the large Aux/IAA family exhibit a range of degradation rates and that Aux/IAA degradation rates drive transcriptional dynamics. These synthetic experiments and subsequent experiments in transgenic plants demonstrate that Aux/IAA degradation rate sets the pace for critical developmental events. I will discuss our latest efforts to understand how evolution may tune the auxin response to optimize context-specific cellular outputs.