Dr. Arunika Nishanthi Gunawardena
|Teaching & Research
programmed cell death, apoptosis, lace plant, Aponogeton madagascariensis, plant development, cell biology, perforation formation, caspases, ethylene, developmental PCD
y research interest is programmed cell death (PCD) in plant development. The development of complex leaf shape through perforation formation is a unique and fascinating use of developmental PCD. Several Monstera species (Araceae) and a single species of the distantly related Aponogeton family,
Aponogeton madagascariensis (lace plant) are the only vascular plants that form perforations by PCD during leaf development. Lace plant is native to Madagascar where it grows in river habitats as a submerged aquatic. Mature leaf blades are highly unusual in that they are perforated with holes that extend through the blade, forming an open lattice pattern. Perforations are positioned equidistantly between the longitudinal and transverse veins, and are large and rectangular near the midvein, but smaller and rounder near the margin. Immature leaves are rolled longitudinally, but unfurl as they expand from the apical region of the corm-like tuber to form a flat leaf blade with a simple shape. Young leaves are red in color due to anthocyanin which disappears as they mature (Figures 1-3).
The accessibility and predictability of perforation formation in aquatic lace plant provides an extremely tractable system in which to study the process of PCD, as well as its developmental control
Although some of the steps of cell death execution have been identified in this unique case of developmentally-regulated PCD in plants, nothing is known about the developmental cues, signaling pathways, or molecular regulation of the PCD process during perforation formation. Therefore, my research goals are:
Lord, C, Wertman, J., Lane, S. and Gunawardena, A.H.L.A.N. (2011). Do mitochondria play a role in remodelling lace plant leaves through programmed cell death?” BMC Plant Biology doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-102.