Plant cell differentiation - Which role for phosphoinositides?

Plant Vascular Development

A central question in plant development is how cells acquire their final fate. An extreme example of cell differentiation is the developmental program that shapes phloem cells as conductive elements. In order to become a long-distance network that distributes photoassimilates and growth regulators throughout the plant body, protophloem cells eliminate their nucleus and the majority of their organelles. Despite the importance of phloem function in plant fitness, very little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms controlling its differentiation. Thus, our main interest is to identify new factors responsible for the subcellular events occurring during cell differentiation.We will start with the characterization of the new role of a group of lipid signaling compounds, the phosphoinositides (PIs), as phloem regulators. The function of the PIs at the subcellular level will be studied by using cell biology, biochemical and genetic approaches in root protophloem strands of Arabidopsis thaliana. We are particularly interested in building up a PI-related functional network with the aim of understanding not only how these compounds control protophoem differentiation but also how they modulate root architecture.  


Recent Publications

  • Signaling phospholipids in plant development: small couriers determining cell fate
    Champeyroux, Chloe; Stoof, Claudia; Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia
    Current Opinion In Plant Biology,  10.1016/j.pbi.2020.05.007  OCT 2020
  • Lipid kinases PIP5K7 and PIP5K9 are required for polyamine-triggered K(+)efflux in Arabidopsis roots
    Zarza, Xavier; Van Wijk, Ringo; Shabala, Lana; Hunkeler, Anna; Lefebvre, Matthew; et al.
    Plant Journal  DOI: 10.1111/tpj.14932  OCT 2020
  • A Reservoir of Pluripotent Phloem Cells Safeguards the Linear Developmental Trajectory of Protophloem Sieve Elements
    Gujas, Bojan; Kastanaki, Elizabeth; Sturchler, Alessandra; Cruz, Tiago M. D.; Ruiz-Sola, M. Aguila; Dreos, Rene; Eike, Simona; Truernit, Elisabeth; Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia
    Current Biology 30 (5): 755-+ DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.12.043 MAR 9 2020
  • Single cell RNA sequencing and its promise in reconstructing plant vascular cell lineages
    Rodriguez-Villalon, A; Brady, SM
    CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY, 48 47-56; 10.1016/j.pbi.2019.04.002 APR 2019
  • Perturbing phosphoinositide homeostasis oppositely affects vascular differentiation in Arabidopsis thaliana roots
    Gujas, B; Cruz, TMD; Kastanaki, E; Vermeer, JEM; Munnik, T; Rodriguez-Villalon, A
    DEVELOPMENT, 144 (19): 3578-3589 DOI: 10.1242/dev.155788  OCT 1 2017
  • 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
  • Wiring a plant: genetic networks for phloem formation in Arabidopsis thaliana roots 
    Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia 
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 210 (1): 45-50 APR 2016
  • Plant Phosphoglycerolipids: The Gatekeepers of Vascular Cell Differentiation 
    Gujas, Bojan; Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia 
  • Primary root protophloem differentiation requires balanced phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate levels and systemically affects root branching 
    Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia; Gujas, Bojan; van Wijk, Ringo; et al. 
    DEVELOPMENT, 142 (8): 1437-1446 APR 15 2015
  • Molecular genetic framework for protophloem formation
    Rodriguez-Villalon, Antia; Gujas, Bojan; Kang, Yeon Hee; et al.
    111(31): 11551-11556 10.1073/pnas.1407337111  2014
Antia Rodriguez-Villalon

Prof. Dr. Antia Rodríguez Villalon
ETH Zurich
Institute of Molecular Plant Biology
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 97 33

Research topics

  • Vascular development
  • Root growth
  • Root architecture
  • Cell differentiation and cell specification


  • Cell biology
  • Plant genetics