In his first talk, Philip Benfey gives an overview of root genetics and his work to identify genes that are involved in the process that takes a stem cell to a differentiated tissue. He explains how mutant Arabidopsis plants with shorter roots helped his lab understand how specific genes are expressed in plant roots, and how these genes affect root function. He reveals how a protein encoded by a gene called SHORTROOT moves from the vascular tissue to the endodermis to induce expression of another gene called SCARECROW. This whole complex is the on-off switch that causes certain root cells to divide and differentiate properly. Benfey also talks about how these genes can be used to change cell identity.
In his second talk, Dr. Benfey dives even further into the cellular differentiation pathway of plant roots. He provides an explanation of the signaling pathway that activates positive feedback and feed-forward loops that impact the organization of cells as the root develops. He also covers how roots function as they spread through soil and how a chemical compound his lab identified can help roots grow through saline soil.
Philip Benfey is a Professor of Biology at Duke University and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University (1986) and earned a B.S. from the University of Paris (1981). Dr. Benfey uses genetic and genomic techniques to understand the development of plant roots, which provides insight into… Continue Reading