Our research aims to identify genes, signals and pathways that regulate plant growth and development. All organisms develop by carefully controlling the flow of information (“signals”) that passes between cells and tissues. We are particularly interested in discovering these signals and finding out how they are transmitted, and how they function. In one project, we are investigating a unique way in which plant cells communicate, by transporting regulatory proteins via small channels called plasmodesmata. These channels, which direct the flow of nutrients and signals through growing tissues, are regulated during development. We also continue to identify other genes that control plant architecture through effects on stem cell maintenance and identity. Recent examples include discovery of a subunit of a heterotrimeric G protein that is conserved throughout animals and plants, and our studies indicate that this gene controls stem cell proliferation. This past year we also demonstrated that weak mutations in one of the receptor proteins can enhance seed production in maize, which could lead to yield increases. Separately, the lab has characterized system-wide networks of gene expression in inflorescence development, using “next-gen” profiling methods, and is developing a collection of maize lines that can drive expression of any reporter or experimental gene in any tissue type, tools of great interest to maize researchers that are being made available to the broader scientific community, enabling experiments never before possible in crop plants.