The main research goals of the project are (i) to survey systematically what are the components controlling growth processes in plant cells (genome sequences, proteins, metabolites), (ii) to understand how they coordinate their action, and (iii) to explain quantitative growth phenotypes at the molecular level. The stages of development of interest in this project start after the formation of the primordia originating at the shoot apical meristem. At this point, proliferation and growth of leaf cells controls biomass accumulation in the plant, which is the primary determinant of crop productivity.
This process will be studied within a common research framework of five workpackages that will generate high-throughput (HTP) quantitative data defining growth variables, genetic components of growth, the molecular composition of leaves at successive stages of development, molecular interaction networks and small molecules affecting growth (WP1-5). This data will be captured, stored and distributed, both within and outside the programme (WP6). Finally, mathematical and statistical methods to model and predict leaf processes will be developed and tested in close collaboration between computer scientists and experimentalists (WP7). The suite of analytical tools will be exhaustively tested and modified before being made available as a package of integrated systems biology applications and as web services.