Joint Calls

Identification of transcriptional programs controlling seed growth and development from Arabidopsis to rice

  • Acronym Seeds for Growth
  • Duration 1 june 2007 - 1 June 2010
  • Project leader Arp Schnittger, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany
  • Other project participants Martin Kater, University of Milan, Italy
    Paul E. Grini, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Funding The German Research Foundation (DFG), Germany
    Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), Italy
    The Research Council of Norway (RCN), Norway
  • Total Granted budget € 717,450


Plant seeds are the largest food source for humankind. In particular, the seeds of cereal species such as rice, wheat, barley, rye, oat, corn, sorghum, and others are of tremendous agronomical importance, for instance for rice more than 600 million megatons are produced every year from an acreage of more than 150 million hectares. In this proposal we create an European collaborative effort incorporating Norwegian, German and Italian national genomics research programs. We will exploit the unique properties of a recently identified mutant in the Arabidopsis cdc2a homolog CDKA;1 to genomically dissect seed development. First, we will dissect regulatory circuits and expression programmes controlling seed growth and development in Arabidopsis; in particular we will focus on the regulatory network controlled by MADS-box transcription factors. Complementarily, we will follow two high-through-put and genome wide genetic screens to identify new seed growth regulators. This newfound knowledge will then be compared with and transferred to an agronomical important model species, i.e. rice. This work aims at an increased yield and higher quality of seeds. Importantly, the work on the cdka;1 mutant has revealed a new signalling pathway that can lead to seed development in the absence of fertilization. Here we will decipher this pathway and study how seeds can develop in the absence of fertilization. Aspiring to new avenues of plant breeding and plant reproduction, a long term goal of this research is the generation of apomictic crops.

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