Mechanistic principles underlying dynamics of plant growth compensation by low temperatures (EoI -TSP2-10)

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Plant growth is achieved by stem cell division followed by differentiation, however little is known about how stem cell activity is regulated by the environment and upon stress response. Shoot (SAM) and root (RAM) apical meristems are normally exposed to different temperatures during day, as soil temperature is below than above air and roots grow underground. Despite this temperature difference shoot and root growth is coordinated and compensated. In addition, plant growth is slowed down by cold. The molecular mechanisms are unknown. We propose to investigate the role of a homeodomain cold sensitive transcription factor (COLD) in the regulation and compensation of growth upon decreasing temperatures. We will follow a synergistic multidisciplinary approach that combines genetics, time-lapse live cell imaging and spatio-temporal computational models. We will address effect of COLD in stem cell regulators and stem cell division and differentiation in the SAM and the RAM upon a range of temperatures. We will also model shoot-root growth using quantitatively measures of cell division, elongation, stem cell regulators activation/repression and COLD induction and movement. Predictions from data-driven computer models will guide experiments to reveal minimal mechanistic components underlying plant growth compensation upon root-to-shoot differential exposure and growth retardation in response to cold.