Photo of Dr Diarmuid O'Maoileidigh

Dr Diarmuid O'Maoileidigh PhD

Tenure Track Fellow Functional and Comparative Genomics

    Research

    Floral Organ Evolution and Development

    We have known for centuries that floral organs are derived from leaves but our understanding of how this metamorphosis occurred is vastly incomplete. In the past three decade, important insights that help to explain how floral organs become patterned, specified, and differentiated have been made. We now know that an astonishingly complex gene regulatory network underlies the formation of floral organs, however, significant challenges lay ahead to disentangle this regulatory network.

    The focus of this laboratory will be to understand how floral organs develop and have evolved. We are particularly interested in understanding how floral organs evolved from leaf progenitors and we have previously used trichome development as an example of a leaf trait that is suppressed during flower formation in most, but not all, flowering plants. We are studying a group of transcription factors that are master regulators of flower development and we aim to understand their activities during flower and fruit formation in a variety of plant species that include model organisms and crops.

    Floral Organ Photosynthesis
    A fluorescent reporter marking advanced stages of the stomatal lineage is active during fruit formation in Arabidopsis thaliana.
    A fluorescent reporter marking advanced stages of the stomatal lineage is active during fruit formation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

    Leaves provide the vast majority of photosynthates required for plant growth; however, non-foliar structures often provide a significant, and sometimes irreplaceable, source of photosynthates. We are interested in characterizing the contributions that photosynthesis in different floral organs makes towards plant and seed growth. We are also interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that control floral organ photosynthesis, which differs to foliar photosynthesis in several respects. We hope that this work will lead us to a better understanding of floral organ evolution and facilitate the identification of breeding targets to improve fruit and seed quality.

    Transcription Factor Function

    Transcription factors often act as master regulators of development. Genome-wide studies in plants have improved our understanding of transcription factor activity, however, many questions remain unanswered about the manners in which they select specific targets and how these targets evolve during speciation. We will use a combination of functional genomics, proteomics, and molecular genetics in an attempt to answer these questions in a variety of plant species.

    Research Grants

    Bench fees for Maryam Ibrahim F Subaylaa - KFU526

    ROYAL EMBASSY OF SAUDI ARABIA CULTURAL BUREAU IN LONDON (UK)

    July 2019 - June 2020