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CSIRO Waite Campus Seminar: Dr Nial Gursanscky

Aug 15, 4:00 pm

The following Seminar will be taking place at 4pm on Tuesday 15th August in the Upstairs Seminar Room, CSIRO Wine Innovation West building.

Dr. Nial Gursanscky

Postdoctoral Fellow, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Intercellular communication keeps plants growing in the right directions


Postdoctoral Fellow, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Effective communication between cells is a determining factor in the successful development of multicellular organisms. Processes as diverse as pathogen resistance, organ formation, nutrient and energy allocation, and developmental transitions rely on intercellular signals that elicit specific responses in recipient cells.

During my PhD research I investigated cell-to-cell and long-distance communication mediated by small RNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana. Endogenous small RNAs play essential roles in viral pathogen resistance and in regulation of cellular differentiation during development. Furthermore, endogenous small RNAs are mobile over distances ranging from only a few cells to the whole plant. The mechanisms that restrict some sub-populations of small RNAs within their progenitor cells or, conversely, facilitate transport to recipient cells, remain largely unknown. As part of my research I developed a transgenic reporter system sensitive to mobile small RNAs and carried out an EMS mutagenesis screen to search for novel small RNA transport factors. I identified over 40 mutants from this screen, including numerous novel mutants in genes known to be required for small RNA biogenesis and at least 5 mutants that did not map to known small RNA pathway genes. One novel mutation was map-base cloned to the PRL1 gene, which I showed to be involved in small RNA transport, but is not necessary for small RNA biogenesis or activity.

For my first postdoctoral project I moved to a different intercellular communication pathway, namely small-peptide mediated signalling in the cambium (the stem cell niche that supports stem thickening) in Arabidopsis. I worked to characterise the biological function of a recently published LRR-Receptor-Like-Kinase gene called MORE LATERAL GROWTH 1 (MOL1), whose mutants produce excessive stem thickening. RNAseq as well as additional genetic and developmental analyses were used to show that MOL1 inhibits the expression of genes in hormone-signalling pathways that promote cell divisions within the cambium. These findings highlighted functional similarities in the regulation of stem cell homeostasis in the cambium and other niches at the shoot and root apices.

I studied for my BSc in Neuroscience and Genetics at the University of Queensland, then joined Bernie Carroll’s lab, also at UQ, for my Honours project and PhD in plant molecular genetics. In 2012 I moved to the Gregor Mendel Institute in Vienna, Austria, to do a post-doc in Thomas Greb’s lab. In February this year I joined Anna Koltunow’s group at CSIRO Agriculture and Food, where I am working on the Capturing Heterosis project.

Enquiries to Jessica Ernakovich (Christine.Bottcher@csiro.au)


Aug 15
4:00 pm
Event Category:


CSIRO, Building 1 Seminar Room
Gate 4, Waite Road
Urrbrae, SA 5064 Australia

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