The function and evolution of FRUITFULL-like genes
My research focuses on the function and evolution of FRUITFULL-like genes in different species, including tomato, Arabidopsis, petunia, sugar beet and the orchid Erycina pusilla. In the model species Arabidopsis, there is only one multifunctional FRUITFULL gene, which functions in fruit development, flowering, leaf development, plant architecture and plant longevity. This gene is active in many different tissues, and the encoded transcription factor forms distinct complexes and regulates different target genes in these tissues (see Figure). In other plant species, such as tomato, petunia and E. pusilla, several copies of the FRUITFULL gene are present. In most cases, these copies have sub-functionalized, which means that the original functions have become divided over the different copies.
We aim to unravel:
- What the functions of FRUITFULL-like genes are in various species.
- What determines which protein-protein interactions can be formed by FRUITFULL proteins and which target genes can be regulated.
- How the FRUITFULL-like genes evolved, and what the link is between particular sequence motifs and the biological function of the genes.