Saturday, 21 July 2018

Paper on plants' conquest of land out

Cell divisions rotate in a spiral pattern at the top of a moss shoot.

Many thanks to those who have commented generously on our latest offering to Current Biology, online here

In our paper we identify the genetic basis of a defining feature of land plants, namely the capacity to rotate cell divisions through multiple planes. This innovation was important in land plant evolution because plant cells cannot move, and growth and cell division planes pattern overall plant form.  Multiple cell division planes translate directly into multiple growth axes, accounting for the elaboration of land plant forms relative to their algal ancestors. The genes involved encode a small protein that can move, and its receptors, and a major future challenge will be to discover how these act to set the cell division planes.

My team now wishes to address this challenge and to work out how changes in gene activity contributed to the radiation of diverse plant forms during evolution.

I am very grateful to my students, colleagues and collaborators for making this project so enjoyable, and especially to Chris né White for taking a punt when we started the work.