Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Robert Pruitt

Robert Pruitt Profile Picture

Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1986

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Plant Biology

Current Research Interests:

Although plant cells are encased in rigid cell walls and are therefore incapable of the types of developmental migrations which take place in animal systems, it is clear from genetic studies that the fate of individual plant cells is dependent on cell-cell communication rather than being the product of an invariant cell lineage. We are interested in determining what sorts of molecular mechanisms are used in these cellular interactions and how they are used to regulate the developmental process. We are using two different experimental systems in the small weed Arabidopsis thaliana to address these questions.

During reproduction in Arabidopsis, pollen grains land on the stigma, germinate and grow pollen tubes which penetrate the stigma surface and are guided to the ovules. This growth and development of the male gametophyte is controlled by cellular interactions with the female reproductive system. We are interested in identifying genes which are essential to these communication processes by isolating mutations which disrupt the growth and development of the male gametophyte. Using this approach it has been possible to identify a number of different genes involved in various cellular interactions which we are characterizing further.

The second system which we are studying is a family of genes which control the cellular interactions which take place between epidermal cells in Arabidopsis. These genes have been identified by mutations which result in fusion events taking place between the surfaces of organs which in wild-type plants would remain distinct. These genes normally act to regulate this fusion process, in part by controlling the ability of signaling molecules to cross the cuticle found on the outer surface of the plant. Experiments in the lab are directed toward better characterization of these genes and their phenotypes, including cloning and molecular characterization of the genes themselves.

Selected Publications:

Lolle, S.J., J.L. Victor, J.M. Young and R.E. Pruitt (2005) Genome-wide non-mendelian inheritance of extra-genomic information in Arabidopsis. Nature, 434, 505-509.

Krolikowski, K.A., J.L. Victor, T. Nussbaum Wagler, S.J. Lolle, and R.E. Pruitt (2003) Isolation and Characterization of the Arabidopsis Organ Fusion Gene HOTHEAD. Plant J., 35, 501-511.

Pruitt, R.E., J.L. Bowman and U. Grossniklaus (2003) Plant genetics: a decade of integration. Nature Genetics, 33, 294-304.

Pruitt, R.E., J.-P. Vielle-Calzada, S.E. Ploense, U. Grossniklaus and S.J. Lolle (2000) FIDDLEHEAD, a gene required to suppress epidermal cell interactions in Arabidopsis, encodes a putative lipid biosynthetic enzyme. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97, 1311-1316.

Lolle, S.J., W. Hsu and R.E. Pruitt (1998) Genetic analysis of organ fusion in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics, 149, 607-619.

Lolle, S.J., G.P. Berlyn, E.M. Engstrom, K.A. Krolikowski, W.-D. Reiter and R.E. Pruitt (1997) Developmental regulation of cell interactions in the Arabidopsis fiddlehead-1 mutant: A role for the epidermal cell wall and cuticle. Devel. Biol., 189, 311-321.

Hülskamp, M., N. Parekh, P. Grini, K. Schneitz, I. Zimmerman, S.J. Lolle and R.E. Pruitt (1997) The STUD gene is required for male specific cytokinesis after telophase II of meiosis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Devel. Biol., 187, 114-124.

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