Thermomorphogenesis

Thermomorphogenesis

See also my LinkedIN profile and/or my profile page (including CV)

Assistant Professor
Address
Padualaan 8
3584CH Utrecht
Research outline

Even a small increase in ambient temperature considerably hampers growth and productivity of many plants species including crops. Therefore, global warming significantly hampers agricultural productivity worldwide. Plants can however mitigate the impact of high temperature by adapting their growth and morphology. Together the suite of morphological adaptations is called thermomorphogenesis. In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, high temperature induces for example elongation growth of embryonic stems (hypocotyls) and leaf stalks (petioles), upward leaf movement, development of thinner leaves and biomass re-allocation (Figure 1). The outcome is directional growth away from heated soils and an open rosette structure that promotes evaporative leaf cooling, and thus survival. We strive to understand the molecular mechanisms and (epi)genetic networks underlying thermomorphogenesis on the whole plant level and to assess the role and regulation of its individual component traits. To this aim we employ quantitative genetic tools such as Genome-Wide Association mapping (GWA) and Quantitative trait loci analysis (QTL), chemical genetics approaches, Chromatin-Immunoprecipitation and next-generation RNA sequencing as well as standard molecular, physiological, biochemical and pharmacological techniques. Together, the generated knowledge contributes to better understanding and predictability of plant responses to high temperature and can be used to prepare climate-ready crops.

Figure 1: Thermomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis. a,c,e: control (22oC), b,d,f: high ambient temperature (27oC). g: traits associated with high ambient temperature (adpt. Van Zanten et al., 2013 in Temperature and Plant Development ISBN 9781-1183-0820-2