EXROP Projects: Keiko U. Torii

Keiko U. Torii
Summer Lab Size:
Local Summer Program: UW Undergraduate Research Program
Program Dates: June 15-August 22, 2015 (Dates for 2016 should be similar)

Cell-Cell Communication and Stem Cell Differentiation in the Plant Epidermis

The Torii lab studies stem cell renewal, cell-cell communication, and functional tissue patterning during Arabidopsis organ morphogenesis and stomatal development.

Development and regeneration of multicellular organisms rely on cell-cell interactions that specify cell fate. Within the context of developmental programs, individual cells receive and interpret "positional cues" and undergo proliferation and differentiation in an orderly manner. Because of the presence of cell walls, plants achieve tissue and organ morphogenesis in the absence of cell migration. How can plant cells make fate decisions and coordinate differentiation within the context of multicellularity? We address such fundamental questions in developmental biology through integrated and cross-disciplinary approaches that include genetics, systems biology, bionanomaterials science and protein biochemistry, and live imaging.

The following are examples of specific projects for undergraduate EXROP projects:

  • Analyzing how peptide signaling regulates tissue patterning in the plant epidermis using induced genetic mosaics.
  • Screening for new genetic modifiers of peptide signaling pathways controlling stomatal patterning. This technique uses extensive biochemistry and mutant analysis.
  • Identifying proteins interacting with known regulators of stomatal pattering using a yeast system.

Students can choose their project on the basis of their interest, what type of experimental approach (e.g., biochemistry, cell biology and microscopy, and molecular biology) they would like to experience, and how much they would like to get from the EXROP program. We use a plant as a system, which is very easy for students to handle while pursuing a highly intellectually challenging project.

Scientist Profile

University of Washington
Developmental Biology, Plant Biology