The plant root is an amazing system to study. Because in both radial and longitudinal axis, it is highly organized during developmental period. And, all sorts of cell division for root only happens in root apical meristem and later those cells move upward and acquire their identities. In addition, the expression of genes in longitudinal axis either progressive or repetitive based on the role of particular genes during different developmental stage. (See the animation)
Philip Benfey, one of the leading researcher in root biology, studies the developmental mystery of root. His research focus is to understand how cells acquire their identities. To answer this question, he uses Arabidopsis thaliana root as a model system because of its simplicity, organization and organized pattern. His lab employs the combination of genetics, molecular biology and genomics to study the genes necessary for root development along with radial and longitudinal patterning. His lab discovered two genes, SHORT-ROOT and SCARECROW, important for radial patterning of roots. His long term goal is to understand how cells are generated from a stem cell population and how they become patterned and integrated to form functional organ.
He is also a pioneer of cutting edge technology of plant biology. His lab invented a device called RootArray; which allow scientists to grow 60 to 120 seedlings at a time. In this device, it is possible to observe the response of plants and tagged genes too. In 2007, he formed a start-up company, GrassRoots Biotechnology, based on this technology; which uses systems biology approaches to develop new crop traits for the bioenergy, food, and industrial markets.
Please follow the link below to watch YouTube Video of RootArray technology
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