Plant Growth and Development 15c

As I mentioned in a former post, the master program in Plant Biology is collaborative. Thus, I had the chance to take a course in Uppsala University, which turned out to be tremendous!

The course is called Plant Growth and Development and is taught by the Biology Education Center in Uppsala University. Since it is a 15 credits course the time dedication was 100% during 8 weeks, and I enjoyed every hour of it!

Lectures covered the growth and development of plants from a molecular perspective which makes a lot of sense for me, because the interaction between DNA, RNA and proteins will shape cells and determine their function. The first half of the course was lecture-intensive, hence  we started to unveil in a logical manner the importance of meristems, the development of roots, vascular tissues, leaves and flowers. Lectures were combined with journal clubs, where we read scientific articles published in prominent journals. There, we had the opportunity to dig into more specific topics and learn about current techniques and methods used by plant scientists. Personally, my favorite article was from Mason and collaborators (2014), in which they demonstrate that apical dominance in plants is not regulated by auxins –as it was thought to be for many years, but by sugars produced in photosynthesis.

Animation by Hernán Capador. When decapitation of the tip occurs, sugars travel from old leaves to axilar buds and promote branching . Based on Mason et al., 2014

The later part of the course was laboratory-intensive. This allowed me and my lab-partner to focus  on a project full-time. We decided to evaluate the effect of light on one transcription factor in the root of Arabidopsis thaliana. It sounds ambitious, I know. However, we did prove our hypothesis using techniques such as RNA extraction, real-time PCR, NBT root staining and light microscopy in just two months, but many hours in the laboratory. At the end of the period when we had to present the results it felt great, mainly because I realized how much did I learned about plants in such a short period, but also because we obtained the highest possible grade on the research project and had lots of fun 😀 .

roots
Figure by Jon Bancic & Hernán Capador. Roots of different mutants of A. thaliana stained with NBT.

I hope you liked this post and the animation I made myself! I have to admit it… I spent a lot of time on it. But look at it again, please. Isn’t it beautiful? 😛

More information about the course can be found here

Please, do not hesitate to comment or ask something below!

Cheers!

Hernán.