Our laboratory has the goal of understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate key events during plant reproductive development. We use a wide array of experimental and computational approaches for hypothesis building and testing. These include high throughput microarrays, gene function analysis in transgenics, high-resolution imaging, and bioinformatics.
We focus on the development of the anther and the seed because the development of male gametophytes has a major impact on the capability of the plant's progression to the next generation, and seeds are storehouses of food that not only provides nourishment to the growing seedling but also humans. These organs also provide exciting model systems to study the intricacies of gene regulatory mechanism during reproductive development, because of the sheer diversity of cell types produced in a short span of time and space, that are as yet poorly understood.
Our experimental organism is predominantly rice (Oryza sativa), because it is the model crop, a monocot equivalent of Arabidopsis thaliana, that also is a major cereal catering to the dietary carbohydrate requirements of more than half of the humanity. We also use tobacco BY-2 cell lines, Physcomitrella patens (a moss & an early land plant), and Arabidopsis to validate the universality and/or specificity of identified concepts, whenever they offer an experimental advantage.