SynBERC:Seminar series/Magdalena Bezanilla

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The ease of molecular genetic manipulation in the plant model, Physcomitrella patens
Magdalena Bezanilla, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Follow link to see video: Wednesday, June 24, 2009
noon-1 pm ET
RM 463 (Star,) Stata Center (Building 32,) MIT

Our lab studies the molecular control of polarized growth in plant cells. We are using the facile reverse genetics afforded by the moss Physcomitrella patens to establish a molecular pathway controlling polarized growth in plants. Physcomitrella is amenable to gene replacement by homologous recombination, RNA interference, rapid regeneration of whole plants from single cells, and has the potential for high-throughput studies. We have recently used RNAi to simultaneously silence nine genes within the actin-binding formin family and have demonstrated that plant class II formins are essential for polarized growth, while class I formins appear to be involved in cell division. We have used homologous recombination to tag the endogenous locus of one of the class II formin genes and determine its subcellular localization. Using in vitro assays, we demonstrated that class I and class II formins have strikingly different properties with respect to actin elongation. In combination with in vivo rescue experiments, we demonstrated that rapid actin elongation is necessary for polarized growth. This study exemplifies how Physcomitrella patens represents an exciting plant model, highly amenable to molecular genetic manipulation.

This organism may be of interest as a potential model organism for DIYbiology.