skip to content


A networking organisation for plants-related research and impact

Symmetry matters in gynoecium development
Prof Lars Østergaard, JIC

Symmetry matters in gynoecium development

Professor Lars Østergaard

Head of Crop Genetics Department, JIC



Interactions among key regulators of Arabidopsis gynoecium development have revealed a network of transcription factor activities required for dividing this organ into discrete domains. Regulation of auxin dynamics is emerging as an immediate downstream output from these activities. We aim to understand the spatiotemporal information that is defined through interactions between a set of transcription factors and auxin during the gynoecium patterning process. At the gynoecium apex, our data suggest that auxin is recruited to promote an unusual symmetry transition. We hypothesise that this is required to eliminate a default state of bilateral symmetry engrained in the gynoecium from its origin as two fused leaves.

     Auxin signaling occurs through binding of the auxin molecule to a TIR1/AFB F-box protein allowing interaction with Aux/IAA transcriptional repressor proteins. These are subsequently degraded via the 26S proteasome leading to de-repression of auxin response factors (ARFs). How auxin is able to elicit such a diverse range of developmental responses through a single signalling module remains largely unclear. We have identified an alternate auxin-signalling mechanism comprised of a co-receptor complex involving the transcription factors ETTIN and INDEHISCENT directly binding the auxin molecule. This auxin co-receptor is important for coordinated development of tissues in the Arabidopsis female reproductive organ – the gynoecium. Disrupting the auxin-binding capacity of this co-receptor compromises development of the apical tissues of the gynoecium severely affecting plant fertility.


Lars Ostergaard 2013

Lars Østergaard has been a project leader at the John Innes Centre since 2005. He obtained his Masters and PhD degrees from University of Copenhagen and was a postdoc at University of California San Diego. His laboratory works primarily on genetic and hormonal regulation of fruit development in the Brassicaceae family (including Arabidopsis, Brassica crops and Capsella). His group is developing genetic resources for Brassica research and is using both molecular genetics and functional genomics to study organ patterning, fruit growth and pod shatter resistance. In addition to his interest in plant development, Lars is dedicated to translating fundamental knowledge into strategies for crop improvement.

Publications include: Lawrenson et al. (2015) Genome Biol 16:258; Moubayidin & Østergaard (2014) Current Biology 24, 2743-8; Fuentes et al. (2012) Plant Cell 24, 3982-96; Arnaud et al (2011) Current Biology 21, 1215-9; Girin et al. (2011) Plant Cell 23, 3641-53; Arnaud et al. (2010) Genes Dev 24, 2127-32; Sorefan et al. (2009) Nature 459, 386-9; Østergaard L (2009) Curr Opin Plant Biol 12, 36-41.


This talk is also part of the Department of Plant Sciences Seminar Series