1. Research
  2. Clusters

Plant Growth and Development

The plant growth and development cluster seeks to understand how a plant translates information encoded within its genome into growth and developmental decisions that allow it to cope with a constantly changing environment.


The mission of the plant growth and development cluster is to advance and utilize knowledge from basic and applied research on plant growth and development to guide breeding of improved crop varieties while also contributing to the implementation of year-round grazing systems in the Southern Great Plains. Researchers within this cluster use a suite of approaches including cell biology, genetics, genomics, biochemistry, physiology, agronomy, and conventional and molecular breeding to translate basic discoveries made at the molecular level into tangible agricultural products that would benefit farmers not only within the Southern Great Plains but also potentially worldwide. Cluster members meet regularly to discuss ongoing projects in their individual research programs, discuss theoretical and technological advances in the broad field of plant development, and plan new collaborative projects and joint grant applications. To this end, the cluster has developed a cross-divisional project that seeks to enhance soil resource acquisition through the improvement of root system architecture. This particular project aims to leverage basic knowledge of root biology to guide the implementation of a root phenotyping pipeline for forage species (wheat, tall fescue and alfalfa) relevant to Oklahoma agriculture. Long-term outcomes of this work are expected to include new forage cultivars with improved water and/or nutrient use efficiency, greater stress tolerance, and higher yield and quality. Researchers within this cluster also use model plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana, Medicago truncatula, Brachypodium distachyon and Setaria viridis to facilitate translation of basic discoveries into new forage cultivars. Other projects ongoing within the cluster include understanding mechanisms regulating leaf/shoot development, control of flowering time and seed size, as well as in-depth investigations on how farm management practices influence whole plant development.

Associated Projects

  • Control of leaf development in grasses and legumes
  • Improvement of root system architecture in forage crops