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Jonathan Gent

Senior Research Associate
Curriculum Vitae:
Life Sciences, Room B412
Research Interests:

Heterochromatin in maize

Why heterochromatin?

The genome is more than the set of genes needed to build cells and enable them to function properly. It also contains the DNA of genomic pathogens that have the potential to accumulate out of control and to mutate needed genes. The ability to distinguish between harmful and helpful DNA is a challenge for all known life, part of an internal conflict carried even in DNA itself. Heterochromatin provides a way to isolate pathogenic DNA in a form where it can do little damage.

Why maize?

Maize has separate male and female flowers on the same plants, which make both outcrossing and inbreeding simple. A single cross produces hundreds of sibling seeds on a single ear, and these need no microscope, no planting and growing, no chemical treatment, in order to see phenotypes. These and other features of maize make it a model organism for genetics experiments.  

Research Bio

In 2004, Dr. Gent started his PhD research studying RNAi in C. elegans with Andy Fire. In 2009, he started his postdoctoral research on centromeres in maize with Kelly Dawe. His research soon expanded to RNA-directed DNA methylation and other topics related to heterochromatin. In 2016 he began his role as a semi-independent scientist working partly on Dawe lab projects, and partly on other projects (including heterochromatin in rice reproduction).


NSF 2218712 EAGER: DNA demethylation in maize pollen gene regulation

NSF 2139417 EAGER: Methods for chromatin profiling of plant gametes and zygotes

NSF 2114797 DNA demethylation in maize endosperm gene regulation

NSF 1744001 TRANSFORM-PGR: Whole genome assembly of the maize NAM founders

NSF 1547760 RESEARCH-PGR: Zygotic genome activation in rice

NIH F32GM095223 The role of RNA in centromere chromatin

Selected Publications:

Ph.D. Genetics, Stanford University 2010

B.S. Biology, Humboldt State University 2004

A.A. Natural Science/Mathematics, College of the Redwoods 2002

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