The molecular basis of plant growth & development

Molecular Genetics & Natural Genetic Variation

A central feature of plant development is the post-embryonic formation of organs in a reiterative fashion. This build-up of the body continues until the plant dies and can last hundreds of years in long-lived species, like certain trees. Thus, control of plant growth and elaboration of plant form are central to plant development. Our research revolves around the genetic control of these processes, and the underlying molecular mechanisms. A major focus of our lab is vascular differentiation and its relation to plant hormones.

The importance of the vascular system for plant development cannot be overstated. Its evolution enabled plants to effectively colonize land and thus had a long-lasting impact that shaped earth history and the extant biosphere. Vascular tissues allowed body plan expansion, because they permit long distance separation of the location of water and nutrient acquisition from the location of photosynthesis. At the heart of the vasculature, xylem transports water and inorganic nutrients absorbed by the root system to aboveground organs, whereas phloem distributes photosynthetic and other organic metabolites throughout the plant. Xylem and phloem are continuously formed during organ formation from stem cell niches in plant meristems, the growth apices of plant body axes. It is in there where we investigate the molecular details and evolutionary aspects of pathways that are required for proper vascular tissue formation. Our favorite experimental organisms are the dicotyledon model Arabidopsis thaliana, and the monocotyledon model, Brachypodium distachyon.


Recent Publications

  • Local and Systemic Effects of Brassinosteroid Perception in Developing Phloem
    Graeff, Moritz; Rana, Surbhi; Marhava, Petra; Moret, Bernard; Hardtke, Christian S.
    Current Biology 30(9)  DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.029  MAY 2020
  • Plant Biology: Brassinosteroids and the Intracellular Auxin Shuttle
    Rana, Surbhi; Hardtke, Christian S.
    Current Biology 30(9)  DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.073    MAY 2020
  • Peptide Signaling Pathways in Vascular Differentiation
    Fukuda, Hiroo; Hardtke, Christian S.
    Plant Physiology 182 (4)1636-1644  DOI: 10.1104/pp.19.01259  APR 2020
  • Plasma Membrane Domain Patterning and Self-Reinforcing Polarity in Arabidopsis
    Marhava, Petra; Fandino, Ana Cecilia Aliaga; Koh, Samuel W. H.; Jelinkova, A; Kolb, M; Janacek, DP; Breda, AS; Cattaneo, P; Hammes, UZ; Petrasek, J; Hardtke, CS
  • Conditional effects of the epigenetic regulator JUMONJI 14 in Arabidopsis root growth
    Cattaneo, Pietro; Graeff, Moritz; Marhava, Petra; Hardtke, Christian S.
    Development, 10.1242/dev.183905, DEC 2019
  • A Cellular Insulator against CLE45 Peptide Signaling
    Breda, AS; Hazak, O; Schultz, P; Anne, P; Graeff, M; Simon, R; Hardtke, CS
    Current Biology, 29 (15):2501-+; 10.1016/j.cub.2019.06.037 AUG 5 2019
  • Broad spectrum developmental role of Brachypodium AUX1
    van der Schuren, Alja; Voiniciuc, Catalin; Bragg, Jennifer et al.
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST,,  Jun 2018
  • A molecular rheostat adjusts auxin flux to promote root protophloem differentiation
    Marhava, P; Bassukas, AEL; Zourelidou, M;  Kolb, M; Moret, B; Fastner, A; Schulze, WX; Cattaneo, P; Hammes, UZ; Schwechheimer, C; Hardtke, CS
    NATURE, 10.1038/s41586-018-0186-z, JUN 14 2018
  • CLERK is a novel receptor kinase required for sensing of root-active CLE peptides in Arabidopsis
    Anne, Pauline; Amiguet-Vercher, Amelia; Brandt, Benjamin; Kalmbach, Lothar; Geldner, Niko; Hothorn, Michael; Hardtke, Christian S
    DEVELOPMENT   Volume: 145   Issue: 10 MAY 2018
  • Phloem function and development — biophysics meets genetics
    Pauline Anne and Christian S. Hardtke
    Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Vol. 43: pp. 22-28. (2018)
  • Low number of fixed somatic mutations in a long-lived oak tree 
    Schmid-Siegert, E; Sarkar, N; Iseli, C; Calderon, S; Gouhier-Darimont, C; Chrast, J; Cattaneo, P; Schutz, F; Farinelli, L; Pagni, M; Schneider, M; Voumard, J; Jaboyedoff, M; Fankhauser, C; Hardtke, CS; Keller, L; Pannell, JR; Reymond, A; Robinson-Rechavi, M; Xenarios, I; Reymond, P
    NATURE PLANTS, 3 (12): 926-929, DEC 2017
  • BIG BROTHER Uncouples Cell Proliferation from Elongation in the Arabidopsis Primary Root 
    Cattaneo, Pietro; Hardtke, Christian S
  • Perception of root-active CLE peptides requires CORYNE function in the phloem vasculature 
    Hazak, Ora; Brandt, Benjamin; Cattaneo, Pietro; Santiago, J; Rodriguez-Villalon, A; Hothorn, M; Hardtke, CS
    EMBO REPORTS, 18 (8): 1367-1381 AUG 2017
  • Editorial overview: Developmental mechanisms, patterning and evolution: Developmental patterning: from stochasticity to plasticity 
    Hardtke, Christian S.; Takahashi, Yoshiko 
  • Phosphosite charge rather than shootward localization determines OCTOPUS activity in root protophloem 
    Breda, Alice S.; Hazak, Ora; Hardtke, Christian S. 
Christian Hardtke Uni Lausanne

Prof. Dr. Christian Hardtke
University of Lausanne
Department of Plant Molecular Biology
1015 Lausanne

Tel: +41 (0)21 692 42 51

Research topics

  • Natural genetic variation
  • Root system growth & architecture
  • Secondary growth
  • Plant hormone pathways


  • Process modeling of root growth (in collaboration with Prof. Richard Smith, Bern; Dr. Ioannis Xenarios, SIB)
  • Bioinformatics approaches (collaboration with Dr. Ioannis Xenarios, SIB)