Plants are very interesting living beings! Unlike animals, plants are extremely plastic in responding to changes in the environment and they can shape their own development! Plants are capable to generate new tissues/organs throughout their entire life cycle. The establishment and development of such tissues/organs depend upon several physiological and molecular processes that go on inside the cells.

Our research group is interested in studying the formation of vegetative and reproductive organs as well as how plants shape these organs in response to the environment. More specifically, we are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underline the formation of these organs. Several genetic “players” are involved in such mechanisms, including transcription factors, epigenetic factors (such as DNA methyltransfer ases and histone modifiers) and non-coding RNAs.

Towards this end, we use Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) as model plants. Arabidopsis is a genus in the family Brassicaceae and a fast-grow plant. Tomato belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae, and contains edible fruits used in human dietary wordwide.



Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) regulate transcriptionally and posttranscriptionally gene expression, shaping the transcriptome and the proteome of the cells. Amongst them, microRNAs (miRNAs) play crucial roles in plant development. Deep sequencing approaches helped us to identify hundreds of distinct miRNAs that may have important roles in sugarcane (an important biofuel crop) axillary bud dormancy and development.
Currently, we are studying the roles of microRNAs on tomato fruit development. We recently discovered that some miRNAs can regulate shape and size of tomato fruits. We are now performing several experiments to determine the mechanisms by which these small ncRNAs affect fleshy fruit development.To study these mechanisms, we are using a variety of tools such as: cloning, next-generation deep sequencing, generation of transgenic and mutant plants and in situ hybridization.

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