Gene Regulatory Networks in Plant Development

Group leader: José Luis Riechmann

Research project:

The Plant Peptidome: Arabidopsis and Pea

Until recently, the coding potential of eukaryotic short open reading frames (sORFs) at the genome-wide level had mostly been overlooked. However, it has become clear over the past few years that small peptides constitute an important part of the eukaryotic proteome: sORF-encoded peptides (SEPs; also called “non-conventional” peptides, or NCPs) can be present in the cell at concentrations that are within the range of typical cellular proteins, can exhibit different and specific subcellular localizations, and can carry out important biological functions. Moreover, sORFs and the resulting small peptides are in fact raw materials for de novo gene origin and evolution.

The plant peptidome is largely unknown, and so far, only initial experiments in for example Arabidopsis and maize have attempted its characterization. However, there is already evidence of the key importance of specific peptides on plant biological processes (development, stress signaling, etc.). This project is articulated in two different, yet interconnected aims. The first one stems from Arabidopsis peptidomic analyses conducted through LC-MS/MS by the host group, and their identification of novel peptides potentially involved in developmental processes (such as flower/inflorescence development). The functional characterization of a subset of these novel peptides constitutes the first aim. The second aim is focused on the development of a peptidogenomics approach in pea to conduct an initial characterization of its peptidome. As a legume, pea (Pisum sativum L.) is a key species for plant protein production and for the transition towards sustainable agriculture. It is also a prime target in legume research, and a high-quality reference genome sequence as well as transcriptomes are available, information that is essential to interpret MS results.

Experiments will be conducted using the methods and observations of the host group´s previous work in Arabidopsis, and the research will include a collaboration and secondment with Prof. Lars Østergaard (JIC) focused on pea transformation and genome editing through CRIPR/Cas. The project will entail extensive training in both experimental and computational approaches.

Key publication

Kaufmann, K., Wellmer, F., Muiño, J.M., Ferrier, T., Wuest, S.E., Kumar, V., Serrano-Mislata, A., Madueño, F., Krajewski, P., Meyerowitz, E.M., Angenent, G.C., and Riechmann, J.L.* (2010) Orchestration of floral initiation by APETALA1. Science 328, 85-89.

Potential collaborations with other research groups

John Innes Centre (JIC)

Genes in the Environment Programme/Improving understanding of developing plant organs and plant architecture Research Theme/Lars Østergaard

Potential collaborations with associated partners

More information