About the Physiological Botany programme

In the department of Physiological Botany we are interested in the genetic and molecular control of plant developmental programs, particularly focused on the control of root vascular development, the development and evolution of reproductive organs and, the regulation of the plant adaptive response to abiotic stress. To get an idea about our research:

Genetic control of Arabidopsis root vascular development; Development in multicellular organisms is a process of cell divisions, followed by differentiation of the daughter cells forming the various tissue types. Key questions are how the balance of cell proliferation and differentiation is genetically controlled and how the cells communicate with each other for proper tissue patterning. Our focus is to understand these processes in vascular development of plants. We are using the Arabidopsis root as an experimental system, because here it is relatively easy to follow the processes of cell fate acquisition, tissue patterning, cell proliferation, and differentiation as the root is continuously growing and the tissue types are organised in a regular and simple pattern. 

Development and evolution of reproductive organs in plants; We have approached the extensive variation in morphology of female reproductive organs among different major groups of conifers, by studying a range of developmental regulatory genes with potential functions in female organ development. By this approach we have established that the evolution of different morphologies has been associated with a shift in the timing of activation of reproductive development, in relation to the yearly season. By similar approaches, in combination with the use of a naturally occurring mutant, we have provided molecular genetic support for the notion that the ovule-bearing organ of conifer reproductive organs has evolved by reduction from a complex shoot structure.

Genetic regulation of plant adaptive responses to drought stress; To face an adverse environment, plants switch genetic and physiological mechanisms aimed at producing an adaptive response which eventually will increase survival. We aim at studying the genetic mechanisms involved in the plant transduction of drought stress signals, particularly focusing in environmentally-regulated alternative splice events, which may act as an additional level of modulating gene expression. The evolutionary functional significance of distinct protein splice isoforms, in terms of impact on physiology and plant adaptability to drought conditions is examined. 

Linnean Centre for Plant Biology in Uppsala

The research programme in physiological botany contributes to the Linnean Centre for Plant Biology in Uppsala, a collaboration between Uppsala University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Picture: Linnean Centre for Plant Biology in Uppsala

Tage Eriksson Memorial Fund

Tage Eriksson was professor in physiological botany 1978 - 1992.

By being extremely dedicated as a PhD student he started a new era in Nordic plant physiology by first manage to culture free pant cells, and secondly to get these cells and cell clumps to form plants for mass growth.His research team grew and several of their achievements such as isolation and fusion of protoplasts, production of somatic hybrids, organelle transfer and regeneration of manipulated plants are today considered as classical.

As an honor to Tage Eriksson, his family has established a memorial fund to award important contribution in research or education to plant physiology within the Depertment of Organismal Biology.

For 2018, Prashanth Ramachandran, PhD-student at the Dept. for Organismal Biology, Physiological Botany, Uppsala University, is awarded the Tage Eriksson stipend for his studies on how the development of the water conducting tissue in plants, the xylem, is affected by low water availability. Prashanth’s careful phenotypic, genetic and molecular analyses reveal that the stress hormone abscisic acid, ABA, which is normally elevated under conditions of drought, is required for the normal development of continuous xylem strands. In conditions of limited water availability, when levels of ABA rise very rapidly, instead more strands are formed. By cell-specifically blocking ABA signalling, Prashanth shows that signalling within the vascular tissues is of little importance for this response. Instead, ABA signalling within the surrounding endodermal cell layer is important. Here, ABA affects the levels of a microRNA, with the capacity to move into the vascular tissues to determine the levels of a specific group of factors that in turn determine the development of the xylem cells. In this way the endodermis functions as a signalling hub relaying information about external conditions. Prashanth’s discovery shows how plants respond to external conditions by an intricate cell-to-cell communication between different cell types, that affects and adjusts their inner structure.

People at Physiological Botany

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