"How do plants know when to flower?"
Our major research topic is elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which plants sense seasonal changes. As changes in day-length occur in a predictable manner throughout the year, many organisms use this information to anticipate and prepare for upcoming seasonal changes. How do they measure changes in day length? What is the molecular seasonal calender made of? These are fundamental questions that we would like to answer.
To measure changes in day length, organisms required functional daily time-keeping mechanisms, commonly called circadian clocks. We are interested in the molecular link between the circadian clocks and seasonal responses.
In our lab, we mainly use the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana (pictured at right). Arabidopsis plants can distinguish longer days from shorter days. The plants pictured were grown for the same length of time, but the plant on the right was grown with 16 hours of daylight and 8 hours of darkness (long-day conditions) and the plant on the left was grown with 8 hours of daylight and 16 hours of darkness (short-day conditions). We would like to know how this response (photoperiodic flowering response) is regulated at the molecular level.
If you are interested in studying the mechanisms of the molecular seasonal calender, please come to our lab.