Using recent advances in cell culture, microscopy, molecular biology and chemistry, GRIPP is investigating mechanisms which direct in vitro and in vivo plant growth and development. Specific research interests include: regulation of plant morphogenesis and modulation of plant metabolism in changing climates.
Our research has elucidated the role of a novel class of plant growth regulator, the indoleamines melatonin and serotonin. Commonly recognized for their functions as human neurotransmitters, work at GRIPP has investigated their roles and mechanisms in morphogenesis, plant stress, and reproduction. These results have led to the establishment of these compounds as a new class of plant growth regulator and are being used to answer fundamental and applied questions such as: How do plants sense and adapt to changing environmental conditions? What are the factors that induce flowering in endangered plants? Why do plants commit to one growth pattern instead of another? Understanding plant growth regulation helps GRIPP researchers in advancing the conservation, sustainable use, restoration, and replenishment of threatened plant species to their natural environments.
GRIPP also employs plant protoplasts for a variety of fundamental scientific studies on cellular division and differentiation, as well as more practical applications such as protoplast fusion. Protoplasts, also known as “naked cells”, are the living components of the plant cells after the cell wall has been removed. Once the cell wall is removed, the protoplasts of two separate cells can be combined into a single cell that contains both partners’ genetic material to overcome sexual barriers and create inter-specific hybrids that display unique characteristics such as improved growth, disease resistance, and enhanced phytomedicine production.