venus flytrap


Dr. Robert G. Franks - Associate Professor


Arabidopsis flower development; gynoecium, seed, ovule, transcriptional regulation, gene regulatory networks, molecular genetics



Research Interests

I study how organ size and shape are controlled in the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Reproductive competence of flowering plants requires proper development of the carpel, which is the female reproductive organ of the plant. The meristematic regions along the margin of the developing carpel generate ovules that will later develop into seeds. These meristematic regions are functionally analogous to the mammalian ovary and placenta. The carpel margin meristems (CMMs) provide an excellent system to study basic questions in developmental biology such as patterning, the regulation of cellular proliferation and the control of organ size and shape. My research program seeks to clarify basic mechanisms of organ size and shape regulation and understand relationships between patterning cues and cellular proliferation within the carpel. Current research focuses on (1) characterization of expression patterns of key regulatory molecules and patterns of cellular division during carpel development and (2) identification and functional studies of additional genes that play a critical role in CMM development.


Selected Publications

Wynn AN, Rueschhoff EE, and Franks RG. (2011). Transcriptomic Characterization of a Synergistic Genetic Interaction during Carpel Margin Meristem Development in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS ONE. 6(10): e26231. doi:10.1371/journal.pone0026231.


Bao F, Azhakanandam S, Franks RG. (2010). SEUSS and SEUSS-LIKE transcriptional adaptors regulate floral and embryonic development in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology. 152: 821–836.


Nole-Wilson S, Rueschhoff EE, Bhatti H, and Franks RG. (2010). Synergistic Disruptions in the seuss cyp85A2 Double Mutant Reveal a Role for Brassinolide Synthesis during Gynoecium and Ovule Development. BMC Plant Biology 10:198. doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-198


Nole-Wilson S, Azhakanandam S, and Franks RG. (2010). Polar Auxin Transport together with AINTEGUMENTA and REVOLUTA Coordinate Early Arabidopsis Gynoecium Development. Developmental Biology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.07.016

Azhakanandam S, Nole-Wilson S, Bao F, and Franks RG. (2008). SEUSS and AINTEGUMENTA mediate patterning and ovule initiation during gynoecium medial domain development. Plant Physiol. 146(3): 1165–1181.