My aim is to deduce the evolutionary origin of the genetic program underlying the water conducting cells of
vascular plants. Proteins regulating transport of the hormone auxin and NAC domain transcription factors
have been shown to regulate the secondary walls of conducting cells, fibers, and microsporangium (anther)
wall cells in flowering plants. I propose to analyze the expression and function of homologous genes and
proteins in the ancient, non-vascular land plant Marchantia polymorpha. The Proposed research will provide
significant insight into the evolution of major pathways of patterning and differentiation in plants including the
basis for development and evolution of vascular tissue, wood and fiber.