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VIDEO: Lucia Strader on Condensation to Attenuate Transcriptional Activity in Plants

On November 10, the condensates community and Dewpoint scientists gathered around the Dewpoint kitchen table to hear from Lucia Strader, an expert in plant biology from Duke University. Lucia has been studying Arabidopsis biology since her PhD at Washington State University and her postdoc in the Bartel lab at Rice University. After opening her own lab in 2011 at Washington University in St. Louis, she stumbled upon condensates in plants that were doing some very interesting biology. And like many other condensate scientists out there, Lucia couldn’t resist joining the effort to understand condensates!

Now Lucia is at Duke University and her lab continues to produce deeply impressive work at the intersection of environmentally responsive condensates and plant biology. In her talk, she showed us the fascinating involvement of condensates in plant development. Enjoy her video below as part of our Kitchen Table Talk Series.

Lucia Strader on Condensation to Attenuate Transcriptional Activity in Plants

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Christiane Iserman (00:00):
So I’m very excited to introduce Lucia Strader. Lucia got her PhD at Washington State University, followed by a Postdoc in the Bartel Lab at Rice University. And most of her training was focused on Arabidopsis biology, which tells you how dedicated she is to plant biology. Lucia started her professor in 2011 at Washington University in St. Louis, but recently transferred to Duke University. And I’ve been deeply impressed by her lab’s work, which is very wide and not just focused on condensation.

Christiane Iserman (00:31):
There are many reasons why Lucia’s work lays close to my personal heart and just is very cool. My own personal background is in environmental responsive phase separation, which has taught me how important this process is for sessile organisms such as plants. Just imagine phase separation is essential for so many processes, but is highly environment dependent. So plants need to have this process optimized throughout the day and year. And Lucia’s lab looks into exactly this. How do plants control their development when the environment keeps changing?

Christiane Iserman (01:02):
And the Strader lab has uncovered condensation of the auxin response factors, which are transcription factors. They’re also called ARFs. And these ARFs can form condensates in the cytoplasm of cells which drives the transcription landscape and plant development, but she’s going to talk all about this in her talk today. So Lucia, the floor is yours.

Lucia Strader (01:20):
Thank you so much, Chrissy. I’m really delighted to be here and as I was telling Jill and Chrissy earlier, I’m actually pretty jealous of all of the fantastic scientists that Dewpoint has recruited to their company because I feel like you guys probably have these amazing conversations all the time that I would love to be a fly on the wall and just listen to so it can inform my own work.

Lucia Strader (01:44):
So as Chrissy mentioned, I’m a plant biologist and my lab is really interested in this one particular plant hormone called auxin. Auxin was first postulated to exist in this really marvelous book called The Power of Movement in Plants, written by Charles and Francis Darwin in the late 1800s. And in this book, they describe a phenomenon that I’m sure most of you have seen in your own gardens, which is if you expose a seedling to directional light, it’ll bend to grow towards that light, as you can see here. However, if you remove the tip of the seedling or if you put a little hat on top of the seedling, this bending response no longer occurs. So clearly, the tip of the seedling is necessary for this directional growth. However, this growth is being driven by asymmetric cell expansion at a site distal from the tip. So in this book, the Darwins postulated that there must be a mobile signal involved and indeed, there is. It is a plant hormone auxin or indole 3-acetic acid…

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