John Schiefelbein

  • Nov 25, 2019

Time & Location: 4pm; Room 1200 Molecular Plant Sciences Building

Subject: Studying plant development at the level of single cells

Host: Robin Buell

About the Speaker

University: University of Michigan

Abstract: A major challenge in the field of developmental biology is to understand how distinct cell types arise in particular patterns. Our research addresses this issue by using root epidermis development in Arabidopsis as a simple model for plant cell specification and differentiation. The two cell types in the root epidermis, root-hair cells and non-hair cells, arise in a position-dependent manner, and molecular genetics has been used to define and analyze the genes that specify the fate and pattern of these cell types. By studying the expression and interactions between these genes, we have found that transcriptional feedback loops acting within and between adjacent cells are important in establishing the observed cell type pattern. To further define cell-specific programs in the Arabidopsis root, we have recently applied single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). More than 10,000 single-cell transcriptomes have been obtained, representing all major root cell types and developmental stages. The analysis of the epidermal cell transcriptomes defined the progression of gene expression in the hair and non-hair cells from their origin in the meristem through maturation. Further, the comparison of single-cell transcriptomes from wild-type and mutant lines enabled an unprecedented view of the impact of the mutant genes on epidermis development. The further application of single-cell analyses are likely to provide new insights into cell-specific gene expression programs and their evolution in plants.