Plants exhibit enormous plasticity, therefore they provide a great model for studying how cells and organisms respond and adapt to the constantly changing environment. Light is an environmental stimulus essential not only for energy production, but also for triggering a plethora of developmental and photoprotective responses.
The majority of light signalling components are constitutively localised or translocated into the nucleus and form subnuclear structures, also referred to as nuclear foci, photobodies or speckles to regulate gene expression, protein modification and DNA repair. Studies in animal systems indicate a direct correlation between the disruption of nuclear microdomains and the onset of heritable diseases, ageing and cancer. Any new findings in this area could have major applications in healthcare, agricultural sustainability and basic biosciences.
The focus of my research is to understand how environmental stimuli and genotoxic stress affect the organization of the plant nucleus, and how this translates into changes in cell elongation, division and differentiation. Identification and characterisation of novel components that bridge light signalling to protein stability, transcriptional regulation or DNA damage repair will provide better understanding of the role of photobody formation in plant growth, development and photoprotection.