The genetics and epigenetic programming of reproductive cell lineages
The epigenetics of plant reproductive cell lineages.
We aim to understand how small RNAs, histone modifications and methylation pathways set up the chromatin ‘landscape’ of the Arabidopsis reproductive cell lineage, and the impact of this landscape on the outcome of meiosis and gametophytic cell specification. This research, carried out in collaboration with Xiaoqi Feng (John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK), is focused principally on the male reproductive cell lineage in the young anther, but work in collaboration with Lucia Colombo (Milan, Italy) is underway to investigate cell fate determination and meiotic outcome in the developing ovule.
The regulation of pollen development by small RNAs
We are also interested in the role of small RNAs in regulating development of the male gametophyte of Arabidopsis, from the formation of the microspore to the growth of the pollen tube within the female pistil. We have demonstrated that while there are functional commonalities in small RNA behaviour between the sporophyte and gametophyte, a number of microRNAs operate in an unusual fashion to suppress gene activity. Other populations of small RNAs populations have been found to play important and unexpected parts in regulating the final stages of pollen maturity.