Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
PhD: Yale University
Postdoctoral training: Harvard University
The two current major research areas in our laboratory share the common focus of dissecting the signal transduction pathways that mediate plant cell responses to external growth and developmental stimuli.
One area of our work is understanding the signaling of directional pollen tube growth in plant sexual reproduction. Pollen tubes grow in a polar fashion to transport the sperm cells over long distances within the female tissues. The pollen tube growth process is driven by the pollen cytoplasm but is modulated by signals that originate from the female tissues to nourish and guide them to the egg cell. Our efforts are to identify female signal molecules, their receptors on the pollen surface, and signalling molecules that regulate the pollen cellular machinery for growth.
The second area of our work is understanding the signaling of plant growth regulators. Our current focus is the signaling of auxin-mediated gene expression. Despite its importance and extensive understanding of auxin actions, little is known about how this hormone is perceived at the cell surface and transduced to the cytosol to initiate downstream signaling pathways. Our efforts thus far led to the identification of cell surface associated Rac-like G-proteins as mediators of the auxin signal to auxin-responsive genes. Our ultimate goal is to dissect the cross talk and divergence among various signaling pathways that together produce at least a subset of the highly diverse auxin response.