Ph.D Chemistry, University of Colorado 1981
Our laboratory studies the cell biology and biosynthesis of plant cell walls. Plant cell walls play major roles in the biology of plants. Examples of these roles include controlling the growth and shape of plant cells, tissues, organs, and ultimately the entire plant, regulating the movement of nutrients and signals within the apoplast and toward the plasma membrane, serving as the first line of defense against pathogens and environmental stresses, and acting as a source of signaling molecules important in plant development and defense. Plant cell walls are also the principal component of plant biomass, which has become a focal point in the search for alternative and renewable sources of energy (biofuels).
We are pursuing two broad research goals:
(A) We are investigating plant cell wall biosynthesis by looking at two families of genes, primarily in Arabidopsis, thought to encode glycosyltransferases involved in plant cell wall glycan biosynthesis: 1) GAlacturonosylTransferase-Like (GATL) proteins thought to be involved in pectin biosynthesis; 2) FUcosylTransferase (FUT) proteins thought to add fucosyl residues to diverse plant cell wall glycans.
(B) We have developed a large and diverse library of monoclonal antibodies against plant cell wall glycans. These antibodies are being used to determine the locations of diverse cell wall carbohydrate structures (epitopes) in Arabidopsis, switchgrass and poplar. These antibodies are also proving useful for plant cell wall mutant characterization studies, and for quantitating glycans in cell wall extracts.
Our laboratory utilizes a broad range of experimental approaches in these studies, including molecular genetic, biochemical, immunological and microscopic techniques.
- National Science Foundation - “VCA: A Monoclonal Antibody Toolkit for Functional Genomics of Plant Cell Walls.” 2004-2009.
- National Science Foundation - “Dissecting the Molecular Mechanism of Pectin Synthesis in Arabidopsis." 2007-2011.
- National Science Foundation - “TRPGR: A Toolkit for in vivo Visualization/Modulation of Plant Cell Wall Polysaccharides.” 2010-2014.
- Department of Energy - “Structural Studies of Complex Carbohydrates of Plant Cell Walls." 2008-2011
- Department of Energy - “Understanding the mechanism by which non-catalytic carbohydrate binding modules contribute to plant cell wall degradation.” 2009-2012.
- Department of Energy - “BioEnergy Science Center (BESC).” 2007-2012.
- Invited chair of session on “New Technologies in Glycobiology” at the Gordon Research Conference on Plant Cell Walls, University of New England, Biddeford, ME. July 30-August 4, 2006.
- Chair, Organizing Committee for the Albersheim Retirement Symposium, University of Georgia, Complex Carbohydrate Research Center. April 30, 2007.
- Biofuels, Member, Editorial Advisory Board
- Research Laboratory Technology Program at the Athens Area Technical Institute, Member of the Craft Advisory Committee
- University of Georgia Faculty Senate , Member (2006-2009)
- Program Review and Assessment Committee UGA, Member (2007-2009)
- Executive Committee, Department of Plant Biology, Member (2009 - present)
- Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology, Senior Editor (2000-2006)