Office of Research, UC Riverside
Mark Alber
Distinguished Professor of Mathematics
Mathematics
malber@ucr.edu
(951) 827-3122


Combined Modeling and Experimental Study of the Mechanisms of Growth Patterns in Stem Cell Homeostasis in Plants

AWARD NUMBER
009722-002
FUND NUMBER
33425
STATUS
Active
AWARD TYPE
3-Grant
AWARD EXECUTION DATE
4/27/2018
BEGIN DATE
7/1/2018
END DATE
6/30/2022
AWARD AMOUNT
$522,094

Sponsor Information

SPONSOR AWARD NUMBER
1762063
SPONSOR
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
SPONSOR TYPE
Federal
FUNCTION
Organized Research
PROGRAM NAME

Proposal Information

PROPOSAL NUMBER
18030324
PROPOSAL TYPE
New
ACTIVITY TYPE
Basic Research

PI Information

PI
Alber, Mark
PI TITLE
Other
PI DEPTARTMENT
Mathematics
PI COLLEGE/SCHOOL
College of Nat & Agr Sciences
CO PIs
Roy Chowdhury, Amit K; Gonehal, Venugopala Reddy; Chen, Weitao;

Project Information

ABSTRACT

This project aims to understand how mechanical connections among cells and chemical signals between them collaborate to control the growth, sell-organization and differentiation of stem cells during plant growth. Mathematical and computer models will allow researchers to perform virtual experiments that are currently impossible in the lab. Coupled with live imaging experiments and new image analysis methods, these experiments will yield insights into biological mechanisms governing organ formation in plants and animals and development of cancer in epithelial cell layers of the colon. UC Riverside is a Hispanic-serving institution with very diverse student population and with many students being first in their families to attend college. The team will be actively working with undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups as well as with high school students on the interdisciplinary projects related to proposed research program. Outreach activities will be coordinated with the newly established UC Riverside Interdisciplinary Center for Quantitative Modeling in Biology (ICQMB). Through ICQMB, regular meetings and workshops will be organized on topics at the interphase of biology and mathematical modeling, enriching other groups at UCR as well as other universities and colleges in Southern California.

The shoot apical meristems (SAMs) in plants harbor a set of stem cells that differentiate into cells for the development of all above-ground organs such as leaves, stem and branches that constitute the entire biomass required for sustaining life on earth. Like in animal systems, plant stem cell maintenance in SAMs involves conserved molecular mechanism of repression of differentiation in the context of a multilayered tissue.The main goal of this interdisciplinary research program is to combine development and calibration of a multiscale mathematical and computational modeling platform with specifically designed transient gene manipulations and live imaging methods for the spatio-temporal study of cell growth and division patterns that regulate stem cell maintenance and differentiation of stem cell progeny in SAMs. To date, the most advanced modeling efforts of cell division behavior in SAMs are restricted to the surface cell layers which also do not account for cell signaling in coordinating growth behaviors in this multi-layered structure. Modeling environment to be developed by the team will combine descriptions of molecular and mechanical signaling at several scales in all layers of the SAM to determine biological mechanisms resulting in correct shape and form of the SAM. In particular. multiscale model simulations will be used for testing hypothesis that WUSCHEL and cytokinin may function together and/or independently to influence cell wall growth, cell division rates and position of plane of cell division to organize the SAM growth.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
(Abstract from NSF)