Lieven De Veylder - UNROPO


Unlocking de novo rooting potential – De Veylder Lieven – 60 months

Project descriptionunropo.jpg

Plants display an unparalleled regenerative capacity that is widely exploited in modern forestry, where elite genotypes are asexually multiplied through stem cuttings. A critical point for this successful propagation entails the development of new roots. Unfortunately, many economically and ecologically important species display poor de novo rooting following cutting. Before, we demonstrated that the regenerative potential of plants is the result of a synergistic reaction of two independent wound responses: (1) the accumulation of the phytohormone auxin at the location of the wound and (2) the activation of stem cell-inducing transcription factors. Follow-up work demonstrated that the latter are specifically activated by a change in the cell wall’s flexibility and biochemistry, ultimately driving de novo root formation. In UNROPO, we will elucidate this process, UNlocking the ROoting POtential of poorly regenerating trees to broaden the spectrum of plant species that can be propagated through cuttings. Through a systematic knockout of cell wall modifying and degrading enzymes, combined with metabolic profiling, we aim to identify wound-induced cell wall fragments that trigger a regeneration response. Downstream signal-transducing proteins will be identified through forward genetics experiments and an innovative in-house developed epitope-based single-cell sequencing method. In parallel, we will link the regenerative potential of a collection of 250 poplar trees with their cell wall metabolome and use genome-wide association studies to pinpoint the underlying cell wall modifying, degrading, and signaling genes. Ultimately, the results will be used to induce the activity of regeneration-triggering cell wall variants and signaling molecules in poorly regenerating tree species, and as such unlock their rooting potential, with the overall aim to contribute to the biodiversity of commercial plantations.


These are the objectives of UNROPO:

  • Perform a systematic knockout of genes involved in cell wall modification and degradation to identify the cell wall variants and wound-released fragments that activate a regenerative response.
  • Identify cell wall receptor(s) and downstream signal-transducing proteins activated upon wounding.
  • Link the regenerative potential of 250 poplar trees with their cell wall metabolome and use genome-wide association studies to pinpoint the underlying cell wall modification, degradation and signaling genes.
  • Modify regeneration-linked pectin biosynthesis, degradation and signaling genes in poorly regenerating tree species to unlock their de novo rooting potential.




Prof. Lieven De Veylder
Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
Phone number: +32 9 331 39 61

Funding info

vlag plat funded by the eu.JPG

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union of the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.