Dottorato in Genetica e Biologia Molecolare

Sapienza - Università di Roma

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Sabrina Sabatini

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Sabrina Sabatini

mail and telephone:, 00390649917916

Lab Location:

Via dei Sardi 70, 00185 Roma

Lab components:

Laila Moubayidin, Phd student

Serena Perilli, Phd student

Riccardo Di Mambro, Phd student

Laura Polverari

Elena Pacifici

Scientific activity:

In animals, the formation and growth of new organs cease at the completion of development; in plants, the body is continuously built throughout the plant lifespan. In addition, in plants there is virtually no cell migration due to rigid cell walls: this provides a unique opportunity for dissecting the relations between pattern formation and final organ structure.

Plant post-embryonic development takes place in localized regions called meristems. In the root of Arabidopsis thaliana, stem cells in the apical region of the meristem self-renew and produce daughter cells that differentiate in the distal meristem transition zone. To ensure root growth, the rate of cell differentiation must equal the rate of generation of new cells. We have recently shown that maintenance of the Arabidopsis root meristem size - and consequently root growth - is controlled by the interaction between two hormones in the meristem transition zone: cytokinin, which promotes cell differentiation, and auxin, which promotes cell division, and we have unveiled the regulatory circuit underlying this interaction.

In the coming years we would like to clarify how the cytokinin/auxin interaction influences the activities of the entire root meristem, thus ensuring a balance between cell differentiation and cell division.

These goals will be achieved via the identification of genes involved in these processes. Hypothesis-driven experiments will allow verifying the role of candidate genes, and genetic and genome-wide approaches will allow identifying new genes.

In these activities, we will take advantage of state-of-the-art techniques, including tissue- and cell-specific gene expression techniques, analysis of microarrays from cell lines isolated via cell sorter, light microscopy and confocal imaging techniques, as well as classic genetic, physiological and pharmacological approaches.

Among plant developmental processes - best studied in the model plant Arabidopsis where the most numerous and advanced molecular, genetic and genomic tools are available - root development is arguably the most tractable one, due to a number of characteristics of the Arabidopsis root:

- the root has a comparatively simple and very conserved anatomy, which allows easy detection of mutant phenotypes;

- every root cell file can be traced down to a single stem cell that originated it;

- the root is transparent, thus allowing easy visualization by means of confocal and light microscopy.

These characteristics make the Arabidopsis root also the plant developmental system best suited for modeling and for systems-biology, which will in turn allow to better describe the mechanisms of root growth and its control under variable (environmental) conditions, and to predict how root architecture can be manipulated.


Brief description of the project(s) available in the Lab for the XXVI cycle of the PhD course:

- Clarify how the cytokinin/auxin interaction is perceived in the transition zone to bring about synchronous differentiation of all cell files of the distal meristem.

- Understand how the cytokinin/auxin interaction maintains a balance between cell differentiation in the (distal) transition zone and cell division in the (apical) stem cell niche.

- Unveil other inputs and regulatory circuits that interact with the cytokinin/auxin regulatory circuit in controlling root growth.


Publications of the last 5 years:

-Dello Ioio R., Scaglia Linhares F., Scacchi E., Casamitjana-Martinez E., Heisdra R., Costantino P. and Sabatini S. Cytokinins determine Arabidopsis root-meristem size by controlling cell differentiation. Current Biology 17, 678-682, 2007.

- Dello Ioio R., Scaglia Linhares F. and Sabatini S. Emerging role of cytokinin as a regulator of cellular differentiation. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 11, 23-27, 2008.

- Dello Ioio R., Nakamura K., Moubayidin L., Perilli S., Taniguchi M., Morita M.T., Aoyama T., Costantino P. and Sabatini S. A genetic framework for the control of cell division and differentiation in the root meristem.
Science 322, 1380-84, 2008

- Moubayidin L, Di Mambro R, Sabatini S. Cytokinin-auxin crosstalk.
Trends in Plant Science 14, 557-62, 2009.

- Perilli S, Moubayidin L. and Sabatini S . The molecular basis of cytokinin function, Current Opinion in Plant Biology (2010), 132, 21-26

- Moubayidin L., Perilli S., Dello Ioio R., Di Manbro R.,  Costantino P. and Sabatini S. (2010) The rate of cell differentiation controls the Arabidopsis root meristem growth phase. Current Biology in press


Last Updated on Friday, 24 January 2014 14:12  
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