Lieven De Veylder leads the Cell Cycle Group. Correct regulation of the cell cycle is of crucial importance during the development of all multi-cellular organisms. Although for all organisms it is the goal to divide only if the DNA has been replicated correctly and without damage, years of research have revealed many differences between the ways animals and plants control their cell cycle. The group aims to understand how cell-cycle control genes drive plant cell proliferation, and to elucidate how cell division control interacts with different aspects of plant development, such as morphogenesis, architecture and growth, both under control and stress conditions. Identifying the underlying mechanisms that control cell division might open opportunities to adjust plant size, yield, and architecture.
Wound induced plant regeneration
Injury-induced regeneration represents a self-preserving mechanism in most multicellular lifeforms. Depending on the species, the extent of regeneration is highly variable. Among metazoans regeneration is frequently restricted to tissue repair. Contrary, plants display an unrivaled regeneration capacity that not only restores damaged tissues, but can also give rise to whole plant bodies, allowing them to survive severe stress conditions, such as injury, herbivory attack, and dramatic weather conditions. In most regenerative systems, regeneration is controlled through activated cell proliferation in response to an injury-induced release of a mitogenic signal. However, the mechanisms by which cells in the direct vicinity trigger wound repair remains a major question in regenerative biology. In our research team we aim to address this topic on basis of the identification of a unique and novel plant regulator that is instantly induced by wounded cells and that plays an essential role in the replenishment of damaged stem cells, being a transcription factor nominated ERF115. Even as little as a single dying cell activates a rapid ERF115 response in its surrounding cells. Subsequently, it stimulates these cells to divide, in such manner replacing the damaged cell. Using these observations as starting point, we aim to understand the pathways that activate plant regeneration following wounding, and map the signalling cascades operating downstream of ERF115, knowledge that might help the regeneration process of recalcitrant crops.
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