PLANT DEVELOPMENT GENETICS GROUP
The Plant Development Genetics is a research group at the Misión Biológica de Galicia, an institute belonging to the Spanish National Research Council – CSIC, founded in 1921 and located in Pontevedra, Spain.
Our lab is mainly focused on the study of the genetic mechanisms of plant development, differentiation and growth, at the molecular, physiological and genetic level, using common bean as a model crop.
This global purpose will be achieved through the following research lines:
Genetics of fruit development
The agronomic importance of the fruit of common bean lies in its use as a dry legume as its most recent use as fresh or processed vegetable. Fruit development has been a key factor in the evolution of the crop, especially as dry pod, since domestication has selected favorable genetic combinations for seed protection and control of the seed dispersion.
Our goal is to identify whether major regulatory genes of fruit development are conserved in this model legume, which allow not only to know the function of these genes during the formation of the fruit, and what is more important to develop tools for the genotypic selection of elite lines.
Genomics of flowering time
Photoperiodic flowering response and adaptation has been a key factor in the evolution of common bean crop. Wild types only flower under short-days, suffering a strong selection process during the dissemination to higher latitudes or altitudes, where grown under different photoperiods. So, flowering time is a key factor in this crop due to a change in allele frequencies of specific genes is found to enable latitudinal adaptation, and due their broader relevance for plant growth and productivity.
We are investigating the genetic mechanisms through which flowering is regulated by daylength and temperature, and to explore the molecular links between flowering and other developmental processes including growth habit and branching. This should significantly extend our fundamental understanding of how plant architecture, reproduction and yield are regulated by the environment, and address several agronomic issues.
Once we understand the genetic mechanisms that underlie fruit development and flowering time variation, it is also possible to investigate their evolution throughout the process of domestication in beans. The identification of the exact structure and genes that control not only allow to decipher the genetic mechanisms underlying the fixing domesticated trait but also provide information on the evolution of these widely existing in nature complex morphological features.
Natural genetic diversity present in the ancestors and relatives of modern beans is a major global resource, and a better understanding of this diversity promises to provide a much wider range of variation for important agronomic features and tolerances. Our long-term goal is to understand the evolution of the genetic mechanisms that regulate the time to flowering and maturation of the fruit, throughout the process of domestication, which will help to identify new sustainable approaches to improve the performance of the plant and the yield of seed. Group’s results are already finding application in breeding programs around the world, contributing to the improvement of varieties for temperate growing seasons.
The general objective of the Group is the generation of new knowledge about the regulatory networks of genes necessary to build a specific organ or tissue, to define the architecture of the plant, the development of the fruit and the floral transition, and to make the plant an organism well adapted to the new environmental conditions and agricultural practices.