Jiri Friml

Morphogenetic auxin gradients as an interface between cellular processes and multicellular plant development”

Jiri Friml was born in the Czech Republic in 1973. He obtained a Master of Science in Biochemistry in 1997 at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, a PhD in Biology at the University of Köln, Germany and a PhD in Biochemistry at the Masaryk University in Brno, in 2000.

The research of Jiri Friml has always focussed on the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind adaptive development in plants. Based on recent research, Jiri Friml proposed a general model that explains how plants capture multiple internal and external signals and translate them into the extraordinary plasticity and adaptability that characterises their development.

The granted project of Jiri Friml is entitled: “Morphogenetic auxin gradients as an interface between cellular processes and multicellular plant development”. Plants have, contrary to animals, an unprecedented flexibility in terms of growth and survival. Developmental responses to the environment, such as outstanding regeneration abilities, de novo organogenesis and directional growth are witnesses of these capabilities. Past research has shown that differential distribution of the plant hormone auxin within tissues is a general mechanism for these capabilities. These “auxin gradients” are formed by intercellular auxin transport which depends on auxin efflux carriers from the PIN familiy.  In this research project, molecular genetics, developmental and cell biology approaches will be employed to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the processes that determine the directional throughput of intercellular auxin flow at the level of individual cells as well as the interpretation of morphogenetic auxin gradients at the level of the whole tissue. Combination of these three approaches will give unprecedented insight into the mysteries of plant adaptive development and, in particular, the ways in which plants capture signals from the environment and translate them into specific adaptation responses.

Jiri Friml has been nominated by Ghent University as a candidate for the Odysseus Group I programme. The Odysseus jury has appreciated very much the impressive publication record in top journals and the international mobility of Jiri Friml. The proposed research project is situated in an emerging field with great potential, has an interdisciplinary character and proposes the usage of novel techniques. Jiri Friml will continue his outstanding research in the world recognised Department of Plant Systems Biology. This institute is embedded in Ghent University and is associated with the interuniversitary Flemish Institute of Biotechnology. This department is renowned for embedding pioneering research.