Current projects

  1. Investigating the Molecular mechanism of giant cell development in the Arabidopsis sepals. The abaxial sepal epidermis is composed of three different cell types namely pavement cells, stomata (openings for gaseous exchange), and trichomes (single-celled, branched hairy projections). Among these cell types, pavement cells are our cells of interest, as there are strikingly two different kinds of pavement cells based on size, small cells, and giant cells. We are interested in understanding how these different pavement cells get patterned. Previous studies from the lab have shown that ATML1 protein fluctuations and thresholds as a mechanism for giant cell patterning (Meyer et al 2017). Currently, I am trying to understand the downstream genes of ATML1 involved in this giant cell development. To know more about the various patterning mechanisms please see my recent review Can the French flag and reaction–diffusion models explain flower patterning? Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the French flag model
  2. Understanding the dynamics of ATML gene expression. We want to understand the dynamics of the ATML1 gene at transcription and protein level and correlate these dynamics with the giant cell development.
  3. Genetic dissection of giant cell development pathway. Based on genetic interaction studies, we have identified ARABIDOPSIS CRINKLY 4 (ACR4), DEFECTIVE KERNEL 1 (DEK1), LOSS OF GIANT CELLS FROM ORGANS (LGO)/ SIAMESE RELATE 1 (SMR1) works in the same pathway as the ATML1. We are currently investigating the molecular mechanism for these genetic interaction. studies.
Arabidopsis abaxial sepal epidermis highlighting different cell types

Ph.D. projects

My Ph.D. thesis: Molecular genetic analysis of trichome development

  1. Understanding the role of class II TCP genes in trichome development. Class II TCP genes are known to negatively regulate leaf growth. Based on the microarray experiment done using Jaw-D;GR plants we identified that TCP4 up-regulates the GLABROUS INFLORESCENCE STEMS (GIS), TRICHOMELESS 1, 2 (TCL1, 2). We have shown that TCP4 directly activates these genes and regulates both trichome branching and density. To know more about these projects, please see the two publications that have resulted from this project. 
  2. Role of TARANI (TNI) in trichome development. TARANI encodes a de-ubiquitinase UBP14. Loss of tni results in pleiotropic phenotypes like enlarged organs, bigger meristems, trichome hyper-branching. I studied in detail how tni mutation affects trichome development by molecular genetic analysis. We found that BRANCHLESS TRICHOMES (BLT) as a genetic target of TNI and placed TNI in the know genetic pathway based on my work and work from many other labs. 
Arabidopsis rosette and inflorescence stem highlighting trichomes

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