In the Forest Biotech Lab we study aspects of plant development and growth underlying traits of interest in economically important forest tree species. Genomic tools are used to elucidate gene function and regulation.
PhD 1999 in Plant Biotechnology, Universidade de Lisboa
Phone (+351) 214469627
Plant embryogenesis can be induced in vitro from somatic cells in a process called somatic embryogenesis. This process is of great interest worldwide for large scale propagation and rapid production of genetically improved and uniform seedlings. We have established in our lab a somatic embryogenesis system for maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and several lines of research have been developed based on this system. We have been studying how artificial conditions provided during the in vitro culture steps, namely the supply of plant growth regulators in the culture medium, may affect somatic embryos and derived plants at the level of DNA sequence and methylation.
Because of the experimental accessibility of somatic embryos, we have been using somatic embryogenesis in combination with plant cell transformation to investigate the role of genes that may regulate unique characteristics of early embryo development in Gymnosperms (in which pine is included). A few genes, namely a gene coding for a GTPase of the Rab family and another one coding for a lipid transferase, identified through the use of transcriptomic approaches along embryo development are now being functionally characterized by overexpression and down-regulation strategies. Additionally, transformation of embryogenic cell lines is being used as a tool for gene function validation in the frame of an integrated project addressing strategies to fight the pine nematode in Portugal.
Another main area of research is focused on aspects of plant development related to secondary growth which results in the radial expansion of woody stems. Two lateral meristems (regions of indeterminate cell division) are responsible for secondary growth in gymnosperms and dicotyledonous species. They are the vascular cambium which produces the cells necessary for wood formation and the cork cambium or phellogen which produces the cells for cork formation. We have several ongoing projects aiming at the identification and characterization of regulatory networks underlying vascular development and phellogen activity. Transcription factors of the class III HD-Zip (homeodomain-leucine zipper) and GRAS families are being targeted. These studies are being pursued using model species such as poplar and Arabidopsis but we are also involved in national and international working groups for developing genomic tools in species such as cork oak and maritime pine.
- Liliana Marum, Post Doc
- Inês Chaves, Post Doc (co-supervision C. Pinto Ricardo)
- José de Vega-Bartol, Post Doc
- Marta Simões, PhD student (co-supervision Sara von Arnold, SLU, Sweden)
- Ana Milhinhos, PhD Student
- Andreia Miguel, PhD Student
- Andreia Rodrigues, MSc
- Andreia Matos, MSc
- Raissa Santos, MSc
- Ana Maria Oliveira, Graduate
- Marum L, Loureiro J, Rodriguez E, Santos C, Oliveira MM, Miguel CM (2009) Flow cytometric and morphological analysis of Pinus pinaster somatic embryognesis. Journal of Biotechnology 143: 288-295.
- Marum L, Rocheta M, Maroco J, Oliveira MM, Miguel CM (2009) Analysis of genetic stability at SSR loci during somatic embryogenesis in maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). Plant Cell Reports 28: 673-682.
- Gonçalves S., Cairney J., Pérez Rodríguez M., Cánovas F., Oliveira M., Miguel C.M. (2007) PpRab1, a Rab GTPase from maritime pine is differentially expressed during embryogenesis. Molecular Genetics and Genomics 278: 273–282.
For further information visit the laboratory's website
Biotecnologia Florestal (PT)
As árvores florestais representam um recurso de elevado valor económico, ambiental e social. No nosso laboratório investigamos alguns aspectos da biologia do desenvolvimento que podem ser importantes para a valorização de espécies florestais representativas em Portugal como o pinheiro bravo e o sobreiro. Desenvolvemos um método de propagação vegetativa (clonagem) do pinheiro designado por embriogénese somática e que permite obter um grande número de embriões geneticamente idênticos a partir de células somáticas cultivadas in vitro. A utilização deste sistema experimental juntamente com outras ferramentas como a manipulação genética permite-nos também estudar a função de genes que controlam mecanismos tão diversos como por exemplo o desenvolvimento dos embriões ou a resistência a doenças. Estamos ainda interessados em perceber quais os genes e de que modo controlam a actividade de determinadas células não diferenciadas (meristemas) que são responsáveis pela formação de madeira e cortiça.