Trichome cells are formed from initially equivalent cells in a regular pattern. This is governed by a small number of genes that either promote trichome development or inhibit it. In this project part we aim to understand how inter-cellular cross talk can lead to a regular arrangement of trichomes.The picture to the right shows a young leaf with regularly distributed trichomes stained by a fusion of GFP with a trichome-specific promoter.
To better understand the properties and adaptive value of genes involved in the gene regulatory network underlying trichome and root hair development, anthocyanin, proanthocyanin and seed coat mucilage production we study their natural variation and evolution. Genome wide association mapping is used to correlate phenotypic variation with gene function in Arabidopsis. The genetic and molecular analysis of these traits in Arabis alpina aims to understand the evolution of the gene regulatory network.