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Tonight we discover how Charlotte will help us grow better crops by looking at ways that plants make new organs; and Tom will enlighten us to the beauty, intrigue and intricacy that is a plant leaf!
The importance of being edgy: How plants make organs
Dr Charlotte Kirchhelle (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow)
How do plants develop the astonishing diversity of different shapes found in nature? Answering this question is one of the fundamental challenges in biology, and will aid both our basic understanding of plants and the improvement of crops. However, the mechanisms shaping plant organs are highly complex, and involve many factors acting on different scales in space and time. Since this complexity poses a significant challenge to traditional experimental approaches, I use state-of-the-art microscopy and computer modelling to understand how plants make new organs.
Searching for leaf development genes
A cross section of any leaf reveals a beautiful array of precisely arranged cells. In maize, specialised leaf anatomy enables a highly productive type of photosynthesis to operate, and it is hoped that other less productive crops could be engineered to take advantage of this. However, our understanding of the genes that control leaf development in maize is extremely limited. Our research attempts to rectify this by combining old-school genetics with new cutting-edge technologies.