Plant biologist Keiko Torii joins UT Austin faculty
Published on April 25, 2019 at 11:49 pm
Plant biologist Keiko Torii will be joining UT’s molecular bioscience department this coming fall and continuing her research into stomata and how plant cells grow.
Torii is a part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Program, which supports researchers known for their scientific discoveries, and has been studying the development and patterning of stomata. Her research led to the discovery that plants use peptide hormones as signals in order to control their growth and environmental responses. Peptide hormones are chemical signals that affect the endocrine system in humans and animals.
“Until the early 1990s, scientists assumed that plants must not have peptide hormones like animals do,” Torii said in an email. “My discovery was one of the earliest suggesting that plants, like animals, make use of peptide hormones.”
Torii made her discovery while doing postdoctoral work in Japan. After identifying the gene responsible for a plant’s size, she cloned a causal gene and saw how similar it was to an animal hormone receptor.