Title: “From networks to switches: systems approaches to unravel the control of biological processes necessary for plant life”
Host: Julia Bailey-Serres
Abstract: Nitrogen is essential for plant growth. Insufficient nitrogen leads to decreased agricultural yield while nitrogen application from fertilizers results in increased plant productivity but can have a negative impact on the environment. Changes in nitrogen availability are perceived by dual function nitrate transporters in the root resulting in a signaling cascade and subsequent changes in gene expression. Despite the importance of transcriptional regulation in this adaptive response, a minimal number of nitrogen metabolic transcriptional regulators have been identified.
The plant vascular system supports the transport of water and nutrients throughout the plant body. Xylem cells contained within this tissue allow for long distance transport from the plant root to the shoot. Although the majority of plant cells are totipotent, xylem cells are unusual in that they undergo terminal differentiation. While the genes regulating this process are well characterized, much less is known regarding the dynamic behavior underlying the transition to xylem cell differentiation.
I will highlight the use of high-throughput yeast one hybrid network mapping, automated phenotyping, mining of publically available gene expression data and single cell sequencing approaches. Collectively, these approaches have led to the identification of double the number of transcription factors and novel modes of regulation involved in nitrogen metabolic regulation, and a bistable switch that underlies xylem cell differentiation.