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K-State Today

April 29, 2014



Keiko Torii to speak Friday about stomatal development as part of distinguished lecture series

By Tawny Ochs

Keiko U. Torii, endowed distinguished professor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and biology department at University of Washington, Seattle, will present "Communication, Fate, and Decision Making during Stomatal Development" at 4 p.m. Friday in 221 Ackert Hall.

The lecture is part of the ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture Series and jointly sponsored through the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program and the Division of Biology. The abstract for the lecture is:

Multicellular organisms produce complex tissues with specialized cell types for functionality. Our group is interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of how cells constituting a multicellular organism communicate with each other to execute decision-making processes. Specifically we are focusing on stomatal patterning in the developing epidermis as a model for two-dimensional spatial patterning for its simplicity, accessibility, and availability of molecular-genetic and imaging tools. Stomatal patterning occurs according to positional cues and requires critical cellular decision-making steps of whether or not to become stomata. During development of photosynthetic organs, a selected population of undifferentiated protodermal cells undergoes asymmetric cell divisions that initiate the stomatal cell lineage. A stomatal precursor cell reiterates asymmetric cell division and eventually differentiates into guard cells. Recent progress by our group and others has led to the discovery of key molecules and pathways controlling stomatal patterning and differentiation: (1) Sequential and combinatorial actions of five bHLH transcription factors specifying stomatal precursor cell state transitions; (2) A ligand-receptor system enforcing frequency and orientation of asymmetric cell division; (3) Intrinsic polarity and cellular constituents that are required for creating and maintaining asymmetry. The next challenge is to understand how these regulatory components: ligands, receptors, transcription factors and polarity components are put together in the context of two-dimensional tissue patterning in the plant epidermis. Combining high-resolution live imaging approaches, biochemistry, mathematical modeling, and large-scale genomics and epigenomics, we seek to unravel multi-scale regulatory mechanisms coordinating stomatal patterning in real time and space.

If you would like to visit with Torii, contact Kathrin Schrick of the Division of Biology at kschrick@k-state.edu.

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