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Cell division and differentiation are intimately linked processes in plant development, each associated with specific types of cell cycle. Mitotic cell division predominates in meristems and young organs, but much plant growth is driven by cell expansion associated with repeated replication of the nuclear genome known as endocycling. Formative cell divisions are important in patterning in the embryo and in specific cell lineages, whereas overall growth depends on the combination of cell production and cell expansion.
The Murray Lab works on how these different types of division and the integration of cell cycle with development and environmental responses. A particular focus is the D-type cyclins, which regulate the rate of cell division and the onset of cellular differentiation in all higher eukaryotes. Arabidopsis has ten genes for D-type cyclins compared to three in mammals, and the Murray lab has shown that several of these genes play important roles in the regulation of cell division during plant development.
The lab is currently collaborating with colleagues in UK, Europe and US to understand the role of cell cycle control in different plant developmental contexts, using both reverse genetics and systems-led modelling approaches to build regulatory networks upstream of cell cycle control. The Murray Lab recently led a Plant Genomics ERA-NET on stem cells with colleagues including Scheres (Utrecht) and Laux (Freiburg), and is currently coordinating an ERA-NET in the SysBio+ initiative to generate an integrated 4D model of growth in the shoot apical meristem with the Traas (Lyon), Godin (Montpellier) and Helriautta (Helsinki) labs.