Nearly all plant development occurs post-embryonically. The above-ground portion of the plant is derived from the shoot meristem, which is established in the embryo and contains a small population of stem cells. As these undifferentiated stem cells divide, progeny cells on the flanks of the meristem make a developmental switch toward a differentiated fate and become competent to form organ primordia. We have taken a combined genetic, molecular and biochemical approach to identify the genes that regulate meristem development, and to understand the mechanisms by which their gene products function. We have characterized a receptor-mediated signaling pathway that is critical for the symmetric division of stem cells within the meristem. When signaling is disrupted, stem cell daughters are blocked from differentiation, leading to the massive accumulation of stem cells at the shoot meristem. We also studied transcription factors and chromatin remodelers that are critical for proper gene expression control associated with stem cell maintenance and differentiation.
Dr. Clark received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1991, where he was a Searle Fellow.
Field(s) of Study
- Signal Transduction, Gene Expressionular Genetics
Areas of Focus
- Plant Molecular Biology