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Yesenia Madrigal-Bedoya



I am broadly interested in the genetic and evolutionary bases of flowering. As an undergraduate and during my masters my research focused on the variation of floral morphology and symmetry in non-core eudicots. Specifically, I first assessed the genetic bases responsible for the floral organ identity and floral symmetry in the Asparagales using Cattleya trianae (Orchidaceae) and Hypoxis decumbens (Hypoxidaceae) to compare bilateral with radial flowers. By generating mixed transcriptomes and searching candidate TCP and MYB genes I generated large scale phylogenetic analyses for the two lineages in monocots and was able to identify putative candidate genes controlling bilateral symmetry outside the canonical CYC genes. Then I was able to integrate Aristolochia fimbriata (Aristolochiaceae) into this research, by identifying the main MYB genes in this species. Thus far, none of the MYB genes typically involved in bilateral symmetry seems to contribute to bilateral flower development in Aristolochia.


I am currently a PhD student and my project is focused in the genetic and evolutionary bases of flowering in neotropical orchids, to identify genes controlling the transition from vegetative to reproductive phases. With ca. 25,000 species, orchids are one of the most diverse and ornamental angiosperms, but their vegetative phases can be excessively long. At this point I’m working on the standardization of protocols for the study of emerging model species of tropical orchids and other closely related monocots, using tools like RNA-seq and bioinformatics, gene evolution, expression analyses (ISH, qRT-PCR) and stable transformation (CRISPR-cas9). The long term goal is to be able to induce controlled flowering in commercially demanded neotropical orchids. I am also interested in teaching at the undergraduate level. I have helped developed the syllabus of several botany courses including general botany, plant anatomy and plant developmental biology. 

I am interested in comparative flower and fruit anatomy as well as the genetic basis for flower to fruit transformations in rare angiosperms. For my undergraduate thesis I analyzed the flower to fruit transformation of large and small flowered hemiparasitic Loranthaceae. Most angiosperms have bitegmic ovules, and some groups can reduce the integument number, but there is nothing comparable to the ovular reduction occurring in Santalales lacking all remanants of true integumented ovules and seeds. As morphological reduction processes are usually accompanied by underlying genetic changes that allow only some minimal characteristics needed for survival to be retained, while other less essential ones are eliminated the genetic mechanisms underlying such extreme modifications merits a deeper investigation. For my masters dissertation I am looking forward to assess if ovule reduction in the Loranthaceae has a genetic basis related say for instance to gene loss in those transcription factors linked to integument and nucellus development. 


Valentina Botero Castaño

Foto Valentina Molano Botero.JPG

Floral transition is a complex process with multiple genetic pathways that respond to external and internal stimuli that are integrated by various transcription factors. For this, mechanisms that census and detect environmental signals are required. The reproductive transition begins in the leaves where systemic signals such as AGL24 are
generated that move towards the shoot apical meristem (SAM) where SOC1, another flowering promoter, is activated and control the transition to the inflorescence meristem (IM), which is negatively regulated by SVP. However, reproductive transition processes have not been studied in holoparasitic plants, highly modified plants, with a
reduced vegetative phase (lacking leaves, stems and roots) but with abundant and typical flowering. My project seeks to understand the role of the AGL24, SOC1, and SVP genes in the genetic control of flowering in Pilostyles boyacensis and Apodanthes caseariae, members of the Apodanthaceae family with distribution in Colombia. Both species can serve as a reference to study the underlying genetic bases in the floral transition in the absence of an exposed vegetative phase that allows receiving the signals to start the before mentioned process.


Andrea Ramírez Ramírez

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