The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS)

UFW Research Award for EPS PhD candidate Sumanth Mutte and former EPS postdoc Dr. Hirotaka Kato

Sumanth Mutte and Dr. Hirotaka Kato won the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) Research Award 2019, for their work published in eLife: “Origin and Evolution of the Nuclear Auxin Response System”. In this study, Sumanth and Hiro explored the transcriptomes of more than a thousand plant species, including basal land plants and algae, across 700 million years of evolution. They showed that auxin response components were evolved from individual pieces of older domains using customized bioinformatics approaches. They analyzed the evolutionary patterns in all the major components of the auxin pathway, followed by the experiments to test the complex responses controlled by the phytohormone auxin. Overall, this study provided a basic evolutionary framework to understand the functionality of auxin in various stages of plant evolution. The jury says “The paper is a truly collaborative effort by combining the expertise of the authors very effectively and innovatively, providing an outstanding example of the research excellence that WUR is capable of, thus the deserved winner of the UFW Research Award”. Sumanth is currently finishing his PhD thesis in the group of Prof. Dolf Weijers at the Laboratory of Biochemistry, WUR and Hiro is currently doing a post-doc at Kobe University, Japan.