The reproductive phase in flowering plants is strongly hierarchical; plants must first make inflorescences (reproductive branches), in order to make flowers, which are in turn a pre-requisite for fruits and seeds, which are the ultimate goal of reproductive development. The number, type and arrangement of reproductive organs plants must there be carefully regulated with respect to resource availability and environmental conditions, and the plant must not over-commit resources to the early developmental stages. However, the mechanisms that allow this ‘reproductive architecture’ to be precisely regulated in space and time are currently poorly characterised. We believe a series of negative feedbacks loops are key to preventing over-commitment at each developmental stage, but ultimately limit the reproductive effort relative to available resources in crop plants. We therefore aim to understand the signalling mechanisms that underlie these feedbacks. We also want to understand how plants determine how long their reproductive phase should last, and how they determine the timing of ‘floral arrest’.
People working on this project:
- Walker CH, Bennett T (2019). A distributive ‘50% rule’ determines floral initiation rates in the Brassicaceae. Nature Plants 5, 940-943
- Walker & Bennett (2018). Forbidden fruit: dominance relationships and the control of shoot architecture. Annual Plant Reviews Online, Article 0640
- Lenser et al (2018). When the BRANCHED network bears fruit: how carpic dominance causes fruit dimorphism in Aethionema. Plant Journal 94, 352-371