The research in my laboratory centers on cellulose synthesis and the assembly of plant cell walls, particularly the secondary walls of cotton fibers and tracheary elements. Knowledge gained from these systems is expected to be applicable to improvement of cellulose biomass crops, such as wood, forage crops, and agricultural residues. An underlying theme of the research is the effort to achieve a better understanding of fundamental processes in plant biology as a foundation for production of value-added crops through genetic engineering or marker-assisted breeding.
Cellulose is the world’s most abundant renewable material, and it exists with plant cell walls as crystalline fibrils. Its biogenesis is essentially a nanoscale structural manufacturing process with multiple levels of control (genetic, hormonal, biochemical, metabolic, cellular, and biophysical), and we still have much to learn about the details. We are especially interested in cotton fiber because, uniquely among plants, its secondary wall contains almost 100% cellulose. Cotton fiber is used intact for textiles and filler materials, and chemical cellulose purified from cotton fiber is a foundation for many industries.
We are interested in 21st century strategies to produce improved materials from cotton fiber, as well as in traditional quality parameters such as strength and fiber maturity. Our research is an integral part of the emerging transition to viewing cotton fiber, not as a bulk commodity, but instead as a higher value material grown from different genetic stocks for product-specific requirements.
Research in the Haigler lab is achieved through a unification of techniques including bioinformatics, genomics, molecular genetics, reverse genetics in the model plant Arabidopsis, fluorescence and electron microscopy, biochemistry, physiology, and plant transformation. Collaborators are sought whenever necessary to contribute expertise over this broad range.
- Modifications to a LATE MERISTEM IDENTITY1 gene are responsible for the major leaf shapes of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) (2017)
- Cotton fiber biotechnology: Potential controls and transgenic improvement of elongation and cell wall thickening (2016)
- Cotton fiber tips have diverse morphologies and show evidence of apical cell wall synthesis (2016)
- Comparative structural and computational analysis supports eighteen cellulose synthases in the plant cellulose synthesis complex (2016)
- The valine and lysine residues in the conserved FxVTxK motif are important for the function of phylogenetically distant plant cellulose synthases (2016)
- A structural study of CESA1 catalytic domain of arabidopsis cellulose synthesis complex: Evidence for CESA trimers (2016)
- Prediction of the structures of the plant-specific regions of vascular plant cellulose synthases and correlated functional analysis (2016)
- Metabolomic and transcriptomic insights into how cotton fiber transitions to secondary wall synthesis, represses lignification, and prolongs elongation (2015)
- Comprehensive analysis of cellulose content, crystallinity, and lateral packing in Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbadense cotton fibers using sum frequency generation, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction (2015)
- Computational and genetic evidence that different structural conformations of a non-catalytic region affect the function of plant cellulose synthase (2014)