Ph.D., University of East Anglia, 1991
Plant development; genetics; cell-to-cell mRNA and protein trafficking
Plant development; stem cell signaling; genomics and imaging
We study stem cells, and their impact on morphogenesis and crop yields. By studying mutations that perturb stem cells, we hope to understand how they function. Recent highlights include discovery of a gene encoding a heterotrimeric G protein subunit conserved between animals and plants, and we found that it controls stem cell proliferation. In animal systems, the G protein interacts with a class of receptors that are called G Protein Coupled Receptors, but we have found that in plants it interacts with a completely different class of receptors. Our discovery helps explain how signaling from diverse receptors in plants is achieved. We have also recently demonstrated that weak mutations in one of the receptor proteins can enhance seed production in maize, which could lead to yield increases.
In another project, we are investigating a unique way in which plant cells communicate, by transporting regulatory proteins via small channels called plasmodesmata. We discovered a chaperone protein-encoding gene, CCT8, which controls the transport of a transcription factor, SHOOTMERISTEMLESS (STM), between cells in the plant stem cell niche. STM is critical for stem cell maintenance, and studies of the CCT8 gene indicate that movement of STM between cells is required for this function. Separately, our lab has characterized system-wide networks of gene expression in inflorescence development, using “next-gen” profiling methods, and is developing a collection of maize lines that can drive expression of any reporter in specific tissue types, creating tools that will enable experiments never before possible in crop plants.
Bommert, P., Nagasawa, N.S., and Jackson, D. 2013. Quantitative variation in maize kernel row number is controlled by the FASCIATED EAR2 locus. Nat. Gen. 45: 334–337.
Xu, M.X., Wang, J., Xuan, Z., Goldshmidt, A., Borrill, P.G.M., Harihanan, N., Kim, J.Y. and Jackson, D. 2011. Chaperonins facilitate KNOTTED1 cell-to-cell trafficking and stem cell function. Science 333: 1141–1144.
Whipple, C.W., Kebrom, T., Weber, A.L., Yang, F., Hall, D.H., Meeley, R. B., Schmidt, R.J., Doebley, J., Brutnell, T.B. and Jackson, D.P. 2011. grassy tillers1 promotes apical dominance in maize and responds to shade signals in the grasses. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Plus 108: 506–512.
Satoh-Nagasawa, N., Nagasawa, N., Malcomber, S., Sakai, H., and Jackson, D. 2006. A trehalose metabolic enzyme controls inflorescence architecture in maize. Nature 441: 227-230.
Giulini, A., Wang, J., and Jackson, D. 2004. Control of phyllotaxy by the cytokinin-inducible response regulator homologue ABPHYL1. Nature 26: 1031–1034.