Plant autophagy & development
Autophagy ensures sustainability of a eukaryotic cell. It recycles cellular content, keeping the cell functional and reducing its requirement for outsourced energy and nutrients. Upon activation of autophagy a fraction of cellular content is sequestered into a newly build double membrane vesicle, called autophagosome, and delivered to a lytic compartment for degradation. The products of degradation are then recycled by the cell (1). It is an extremely interesting example of a mechanism conserved among almost all eukaryotes (2, 3) and shaped to fit different life strategies.
Autophagy (from the Greek αὐτόφαγος, autóphagos - self-eating)
Autophagy can degrade individual molecules, complexes and even organelles. It is crucial for maintenance of long living cells in a functional shape and order, for removing unnecessary content during cell differentiation, for surviving starvation and other types of stresses. Despite the obvious importance of autophagy, there is still a lot we do not known about its mechanism in plants. I am interested in investigating molecular machinery of autophagy focusing on its plant-specific features.