Ralph and Alice Raikes Professor
Our laboratory investigates the role of nuclear-organellar genetic interactions in the control of plant growth and development. These studies include the role of nuclear genes in maintenance and transmission of mitochondrial and chloroplast DNA, the regulation of protein dual targeting within the plant cell, the influence of organellar states on plant stress response, and the relationship of organellar processes to the epigenome. One nuclear gene discovered by our group and unique to plants is MSH1. MSH1 is a MutS homolog that is present in all green plants, but is not found in fungal or mammalian lineages. The expression of MSH1 is influenced by environmental conditions, and its suppression by stress can produce changes in mitochondrial and chloroplast behavior, as well as altered plant growth patterns. We are keenly interested to learn whether MSH1 might serve as an interceptor for plant phenotypic plasticity.
Our studies include Arabidopsis, tomato, tobacco, soybean, sorghum, maize and millet. Students benefit from the opportunity to include comparative genomic studies to their research. All projects in the lab integrate molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, genomics, computational biology and phylogenetic approaches in their research plans. Our laboratory receives funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.