Abstract - Through the evolution of plants, the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway underwent a multitude of alterations increasing its complexity, while several carotenoids acquired numerous roles essential to the proliferation and propagation of plants. The roles of carotenoids as protectants against excess light and photo-oxidative stress, attractants for pollinators or seed dispersing organisms, and precursors to phytohormones have been characterized thoroughly over the years. Recently, both in plant and animal biology researchers are uncovering evidence that a myriad of carotenoids also act as precursors to signal molecules, many as apocarotenoids. Further, researchers have demonstrated that these apocarotenoid signals (ACS’s) regulate several aspects of plant development, including root development, leaf development, photomorphogenesis, carotenoid biosynthesis, and response to high light stress. Here we present our progress in decoding the regulation of floral development by the uncharacterized ACS1, a zeta-carotene-derived signal first identified for its inhibition of leaf and chloroplast development.
Biography - I began my research career as a USDA-ARS research assistant (2003-2010) studying tomato fruit ripening and carotenoid biosynthesis under the supervision of Prof. James J. Giovannoni at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. I then transitioned into a PhD. program (2010-2015) in the same lab where I focused on ripening associated regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis in tomato. After graduation I moved here to ANU (2015 to present) to take a position as a postdoctoral research fellow in Prof. Barry Pogson's lab, joining the ARC CoE for Plant Energy Biology, where I currently focus on apocarotenoid signaling and its role in plant development. More information regarding publications can be found here (https://www.mendeley.com/profiles/ryan-mcquinn/).