The research unit on “Chromatin and growth control” headed by Mieke Van Lijsebettens has a history in developmental biology and transformation research in Arabidopsis
. Over the last years, the research was extended to a few crops such as Brassica napus
and maize, with a focus on epigenetic and chromatin-related aspects of plant growth and development. Transcriptional regulation is one of the major molecular mechanisms that controls plant growth and developmental pathways. Chromatin state determines transcriptional activity which is either repressed or active and might be especially important in the regulation of developmental transitions. Chromatin might act as an interface between environmental/developmental stimuli and the RNA polymerase II transcriptional machinery. We study the role of chromatin modifying complexes activating transcription during RNA polymerase II transcription elongation in plant growth and development. Furthermore, artificial selection has an epigenetic component and might represent an important novel method to obtain epigenetic variation. We aim to unravel the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms selected for in artificial selection and study the stability of epigenetic variation in subsequent generations. Another project relates to the role of tetraspanin membrane proteins in plants which is virtually unknown except for one which has a severe impact on auxin-related patterning processes. We study the function of the tetraspanin gene family in cell-cell communication processes throughout development and expect to identify some of them as novel components of existing signaling pathways. Finally, we have a maize transformation platform in place that is used for basic, translational and biotechnological research.
30/07/2016 - Transformation is an essential tool for functional analysis of genes in model organisms, such as Arabidopsis and maize, and thus essential in the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, UGent.
18/07/2016 - At the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, UGent, scientists identified the ROTUNDA3 protein as a regulator of the protein phosphatase 2A-driven PIN-FORMED recycling
21/09/2011 - Using epigenetics and computational biology, the scientists will develop new molecular breeding tools. The results of the studies will be made public in scientific journals.
15/09/2011 - The rapidly growing population, accelerating climate change and a rush on biofuels are pushing plant breeders to look for crops with higher yields. Basic research into plant processes by academic and industrial scientists plays a key role.