The developmental plasticity of the plant root system allows plants to adapt to the large variability of the environment. This adaptation varies widely even between ecotypes of the same species despite the fact their coding sequences are highly conserved.

Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) play an emerging role in the regulation of gene expression and could be then good candidates for the fine control of the adaptation to the environment. My research project aims to study the role played by ncRNA in the adaptation of the root system to the environment.

To highlight the role of ncRNA expression levels on root architecture, I modify their expression at different levels: at full plant scale, at tissue scale and at cell scale using different promoters. The influence of this modification is measured from the cell scale to the full root scale using quantitative semi-automatic imaging tools and modelling (such as Schmidt et al, Plant J., 2014, 77(5):806-14.).

Currently I am following two approaches:

  • Using RNA sequencing of ecotypes grown in different environmental conditions, ncRNA candidates potentially involved in the quantitative control of root growth were searched. At the moment we are investigating more into detail their influence on root architecture and growth.
  • Recently we shown that the module miR169/NF-YA is involved in different stress responses and have shown to impact root architecture (Sorin et al., New Phytol., 2014, 202(4):1197-211.). We suspected that miR169/NF-YA has a non-cell autonomous role on root cortical cell size. We are investigating this hypothesis.