Dolf Weijers: The Arabidopsis Embryo as a Model for Understanding the Genetic Basis for Multicellular Development

6. 4. 2017, University Campus Bohunice

About the lecture

Both growth and tissue patterning are processes that occur continuously during plant life. A key question is how these are coordinated in space and time to generate plant shape and function. We use the early Arabidopsis embryo as a simple and highly predictable model in which cell identity specification, growth and patterning are intricately coordinated. I will discuss our recent work aimed at understanding the cellular basis for the establishment of multicellular patterns in 3D. I will: 1) describe our efforts towards generating a genome-wide expression atlas of early embryo development, 2) show how we use the early embryo as a model to understand fundamental principles of the regulation of oriented cell division and 3) update on our progress towards identifying transcriptional regulators of cell identity in the early embryo.


  1. ten Hove, C., Lu, K.J., and Weijers, D. (2015). Building a plant – cell fate specification in the early Arabidopsis embryo. Development 142, 420-430.
  2. De Rybel, B., Adibi, M., Breda, A.S., Wendrich, J.W., Smit, M.E., Novak, O., Yamaguchi, N., Yoshida, S., Van Isterdael, G., Palovaara, J., Nijsse, B., Boekschoten, M.V., Hooiveld, G., Beeckman, T., Wagner, D., Ljung, K., Fleck, C., and Weijers, D. (2014). Integration of growth and patterning during vascular tissue formation in Arabidopsis. Science, 345, 1255215.
  3. Yoshida, S., Barbier de Reuille, P., Bassel, G., Lane, B., Prusinkiewicz, P., Smith, R.S.,  and Weijers, D. (2014). Genetic control of plant development by overriding a geometric division rule. Dev. Cell 29, 75-87.
  4. Weijers, D., and Wagner, D. (2016). Transcriptional Responses to the auxin hormone. Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-043015-112122.
  5. Liao, C.-Y., Smet, W., Brunoud, G., Yoshida, S., Vernoux, T., and Weijers, D. (2015). Reporters for sensitive and quantitative measurement of auxin response. Nature Methods 12, 207-210.
Prof. Dr. Dolf Weijers

Wageningen University, The Netherlands

  • Work in our group is centered on the problem of how cells acquire identity. Our model system is the early embryo of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This weed has been widely recognized as a model plant, with all associated benefits. Embryogenesis in Arabidopsis is relatively simple, and few cells are involved in formation of individual body parts. Furthermore, cell divisions are quite predictable, and positions of cell types almost invariant. However, very little is known about the mechanisms that specify the individual cells, or how cells communicate to form an ordered pattern. The projects running in our lab are aimed to shed light on the mechanisms by which key proteins regulate these processes, and include a wide range of approaches from cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry to structural biology, mathematics and bioinformatics.

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