Study on the development of sexual reproduction in plants receives funding of 2.6 million euros
A consortium of eight European and US American research groups wants to analyze the evolution of sexual reproduction in plants with the goal to identify the responsible genes involved in this process. The group of Dr. Marek Mutwil from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) in Potsdam-Golm is one of the cooperation partners involved in this project.
Plants have developed a variety of methods to reproduce. This can be achieved asexually through vegetative propagation or sexually through pollination and fertilization. Moreover, there are different strategies within these two forms of reproduction. Therefore, the researchers are going to study the mechanisms of reproduction at different types of species, ranging from moss to higher flowering plants, with the aim to understand the main steps in the development of sexual reproduction.
The main work will focus on the analysis of gene networks that are responsible for different processes, such as the gamete development or fertilization. "The comparison of these networks between mosses and higher plants, such as corn and tomatoes, will be used to identify key processes at the molecular level," describes Dr. Mutwil, head of the working group Regulatory Networks MPI-MP.
Once, the underlying mechanisms of pollination and fertilization are decoded, a new opportunity arises to improve those processes and thus to achieve an increase in production of crops in the long term.
The project is funded for 3 years with 2.6 million euros by the ERA-CAPS, a European network dedicated to support research activities in Plant Sciences. The project leader Dr. Jörg Becker is situated at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Portugal and he coordinates the collaboration between researchers from various institutions in Portugal, Austria, Germany, England and the United States.