PS Seminar Series: Complexity in simple leaf development

Abstract - Leaves are the main photosynthetic organs of plants and as such are essential components in the function and preservation of natural ecosystems, and in maintaining sustainable agriculture. A typical angiosperm leaf is a dorsoventrally flattened organ that is optimised for sunlight capture and gas exchange, both requirements of converting light to chemical energy. How do leaves arise and how do they get their shape? Leaves initiate on the flanks of the shoot meristem and develop into lateral organs due to growth, differentiation and pattern formation along proximodistal, mediolateral and dorsoventral axes. These processes require a surprisingly diverse array of regulatory mechanisms including transcription factors, small RNAs and components of the translation machinery. Together these regulatory mechanisms form gene networks that control cell fate and ultimately give us the simple form of a leaf.

Biography - Mary Byrne obtained her PhD in 1992 from Monash University. Subsequently my career has included postdoctoral research at CSIRO Plant Industry Canberra in the laboratory of Bill Taylor (1993-1995) and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory USA in the laboratory of Rob Maritenssen (1996-2004). I have had an independent research laboratory as Project leader at the John Innes Centre UK (2005-2010) and as an academic at the University of Sydney (2011-present) where I am currently an Associate Professor. My interests and research are in the genetic regulation of plant shoot development and understanding the morphogenesis of leaves.