We study a molecular background of flowering in the genus Chenopodium and cytoplasmic male sterility in Silene vulgaris. Both model plants are members of the same order –Caryophyllales. Interest in plant reproduction and plant evolution arose from previous projects focused on the genetic diversity of wild plant species.
The genus Chenopodium contains both short-day and long-day plant species. A short-day species Chenopodium rubrum has been a traditional model of flowering investigated for a long time. A surprising feature of C. rubrum is its sensitivity to photoperiodic induction at seedling stage - at age of about five days. We have identified Chenopodium homologues of the genes CONSTANS and Flowering locus T, which play crucial roles in the course of photoperiodic induction of flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana. We study their expression in seedlings and mature plants of C. rubrum under various physiological conditions.
We noticed that FT- like genes could serve as molecular markers, particularly informative for phylogenetic studies of the complex group C. album sensu lato.
The second project, currently starting in our lab, is an investigation of cytoplasmic male sterility in Silene vulgaris. We focus on variation in mitochondrial transcription among natural populations as well as on the basis of inheritance of mitochondrial DNA. We are searching for the genes encoding cytoplasmic male sterility in this species.
We collaborate with Radomira Vankova who studies metabolism of cytokinins in transgenic tobacco under drought stress. We benefit from methods of plant gene expression analysis, adopted in the course of investigation of flowering (qRT PCR, Northerns with DIG labeled probes).