Plant Development and Evolution
Within the Plant Sciences cluster fundamental research on cell polarity plays a prominent role. This research is highly relevant for understanding developmental processes in all organisms and not only plants. Another important research line focuses on key regulators of plant development, such as the plant hormone auxin and nuclear proteins involved in plant developmental transitions that are important for crop production and productivity (e.g. embryo- and fruit initiation).
A recently identified class of nuclear proteins involved in the switch from juvenile to adult life phase has related transcription factors in humans, connecting this research to aging in humans. Currently, the role of these nuclear proteins as key switches between monocarpic (flowering once) and polycarpic (flowering multiple times) life history strategies in plants is investigated. In addition, these proteins seem to promote wood formation in plants, and together with Naturalis their role in the evolution of secondary woodiness in. This research is linked to the Agrobacterium research through studies directed at the translocation of regulatory proteins to enhance plant propagation, and to the plant stress research by comparative analysis of secondary metabolites and the resulting stress resistance during the juvenile to adult life phase of the plant. In collaboration with the Mathematical Institute mathematical modeling is used to enhance our understanding of developmental processes in plants.