As sessile organisms, plants need to constantly adapt to changes in the surrounding environment, such as the availability of light, nutrients and water, as well as biotic stresses. It is this developmental plasticity that is and will be crucial for adaptability in the face of ever increasing challenges in water availability, temperature stress, and soil quality. Much of a plant’s capacity to respond to the environment is provided by meristems, small groups of undifferentiated self-regenerating stem cells, continuously formed throughout development. Meristem number, position and activity are a major source of variability in the architecture of different plant species, since they determine if, when and how branches and flowers are formed during both vegetative and reproductive development. Plant architecture, extensively modified during the domestication of crop species, still represents a major target of selection in modern breeding. In particular, in cultivated grasses, vegetative and reproductive branching represents a major component of yield.
Our research focuses on identifying the genes and gene networks regulating reproductive meristem development in maize, whose activity is ultimately responsible for producing the majority of world’s grain. Specifically, we aim to understand: i) how the formation and fate of pluripotent stem cells in higher organisms is regulated; ii) the role of the plant hormone auxin in shaping plant architecture and regulating meristem function (MaizeAuxRE); and iii) the molecular mechanisms of plant domestication and evolution. Ultimately, a deeper understanding of meristem function can provide new tools for practical applications in agriculture.
In my laboratory, we combine the strength of traditional forward and reverse genetics with molecular biology and genomics. We use maize mutants affected in branch and flower formation to isolate and characterize genes affecting branching in both tassels and ears, the male and female inflorescences of maize.
Auxin EvoDevo: Conservation and diversification of genes regulating auxin biosynthesis, transport, and signaling
Matthes, M.S., Best, N.B., Robil, J.M., Malcomber, S., Gallavotti, A., McSteen, P. Molecular Plant 2019, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2018.12.012.
RAMOSA1 ENHANCER LOCUS2-mediated transcriptional repression regulates vegetative and reproductive architecture
Liu, X., Galli, M., Camehl, I. Gallavotti, A. Plant Phys 2019 (179), 348-363
The DNA binding landscape of the maize AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR family
Galli, M., Khakar, A., Chen, Z., Lu, Z., Sidharth, S., Joshi, T., Schmitz, R., Nemhauser, J., Gallavotti, A. Nature Communications 2018 (9), 4526.
The combined action of duplicated boron transporters is required for maize development in boron deficient conditions
Chatterjee, M., Liu, Q., Menello, C., Galli, M., Gallavotti, A. Genetics 2017 (206), 2041-2051.
Mapping genome-wide transcription factor binding sites using DAP-seq
Bartlett, A., O’Malley, R., Huang, S.C., Galli, M., Nery, J.,Gallavotti, A., Ecker, J.R. Nature Protocols 2017 (12), 1659-1672.
Cistrome and epicistrome features shape the regulatory DNA landscape
O’Malley, R.C., Huang S.C., Song, L., Lewsey, M.G., Bartlett, A., Nery, J.R., Galli, M., Gallavotti, A., Ecker, J.R. Cell 2016 (165), 1280-1292.
Expanding the regulatory network for meristem size in plants
Galli, M. and Gallavotti, A. Trends in Genetics 2016 (32), 372-383
Auxin signaling modules regulate maize inflorescence architecture
Galli, M., Liu, Q., Moss, B., Malcomber, S., Li, W., Gaines, C., Federici, S., Roshkovan, J., Meeley, R., Nemhauser, J., Gallavotti, A. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2015 (112), 13372-13377.
Positional cloning in maize (Zea mays ssp. mays, Poaceae)
Gallavotti, A. and Whipple, C. Application in Plant Sciences 2015 (3), apps. 1400092
The boron efflux transporter ROTTEN EAR is required for maize inflorescence development and fertility
Chatterjee, M., Tabi, Z., Galli, M., Malcomber, S., Buck, A., Muszynski, M., Gallavotti, A. The Plant Cell 2014 (26), 2962-2977
Transport of boron by the tassel-less1 aquaporin is critical for vegetative and reproductive development in maize
Durbak, A.R., Phillips, K.A., Pike, S., O’Neill, M., Mares, J., Gallavotti, A., Malcomber, S., Gassmann, W., McSteen, P. The Plant Cell 2014(26), 2978-2995
Dr. Andrea Gallavotti is an Associate Professor at the Waksman Institute located on the Busch campus of Rutgers University, and a member of the Plant Biology Department. He completed his graduate training at the University of Milan, Italy, under the supervision of Dr. Mario Enrico Pè and was as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Diego in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Schmidt, and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, under the supervision of Dr. David Jackson.
Former Postdoctoral Fellows
- Dr. Iris Camehl
Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Grossbeeren, Germany
- Dr. Wei Li
- Dr. Mithu Chatterjee
Former Research Staff
- Richard Fetterly
Former Visiting Scientists
- Silvia Federici
- Dr. Weibin Song
Plant Genetics and Breeding, National Maize Improvement Center, China Agricultural University
Former Undergraduate Students
- Caitlin Menello
- Jessica Roshkovan
- Nur Zawani Nordin
- Alexandra Wells
- Sarah Trackman
- Mariusz Roszkowski
- Shaun Guru
- Jonathan Kunkel-Jure
- Aditya Patil
- Ruhi Shah
- Keemia Abad