Our laboratory investigates how Brassinosteroid (BR) hormones control plant growth and development. In particular, we are focused in understanding the spatial regulation of BR signalling in the vascular and stem cells. By using the root as a model organ we have uncovered a key role for BRs in stem cell function and cell cycle progression at the root meristem development necessary for normal root growth and development. These studies opened new avenues to study the role of plant stem cells on a mechanistic level.
In this direction, we have taken different experimental approaches towards the identification of BR signalling components in specific cellular domains:
(i) A cell-type based transcriptomics to identify a number of BR signalling component that specifically operate at the vascular and stem cells in the Arabidopsis roots.
(ii) A biochemical approach to purify the BRL3 (BRI1-like receptor 3) signalosome from Arabidopsis, for which several relevant interactors has been functionally characterized. Overall, the combination of these approaches led to the discovery of a new BRL3-mediated signalling pathway that operates at specific root stem cells.
Another focus of our laboratory aims to the study of telomere regulation of plant development. The establishment of this new research line has involved the implementation of quantitative cell biology/imaging and computational tools for the quantification of telomere length with cellular resolution in root cells at a single cell level. We collaborate with computer scientists at the laboratory of Dr. Xavier Sevillano (Univ. Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain) to develop new algorithms for quantitative microscopy applied to confocal microscopy imaging. The long-term goal of our research program is to deliver an integrated view of how telomere dynamics is coupled to meristem development and stem cell function in plants.
Our laboratory has also established a long-term collaboration with Physicists at Dr. Marta Ibañes laboratory (Physics Faculty, Univ. Barcelona). We have combined our expertise to elaborate mathematical models that contribute to understand fundamental plant developmental biology questions (vascular patterning, root growth and telomere dynamics). We pioneered an interdisciplinary study to establish the BR contribution to vascular development in Arabidopsis shoots. Only a few labs in the world have the combined experimental and computational understanding to tackle these questions.