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.
- Cultures of Gossypium barbadense cotton ovules offer insights into the microtubule-mediated control of fiber cell expansion, Planta (2019)
- Structure/function relationships in the rosette cellulose synthesis complex illuminated by an evolutionary perspective, CELLULOSE (2019)
- Cellulose synthase "class specific regions' are intrinsically disordered and functionally undifferentiated, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology (2018)
- Domain swaps of Arabidopsis secondary wall cellulose synthases to elucidate their class specificity, Plant Direct (2018)
- Two types of cellulose synthesis complex knit the plant cell wall together, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018)
- Modifications to a LATE MERISTEM IDENTITY1 gene are responsible for the major leaf shapes of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2017)
- A structural study of CESA1 catalytic domain of arabidopsis cellulose synthesis complex: Evidence for CESA trimers, Plant Physiology (2016)
- Biosynthesis and Assembly of Cellulose, Molecular Cell Biology of the Growth and Differentiation of Plant Cells (2016)
- Comparative Structural and Computational Analysis Supports Eighteen Cellulose Synthases in the Plant Cellulose Synthesis Complex, Scientific Reports (2016)
- Cotton fiber biotechnology: Potential controls and transgenic improvement of elongation and cell wall thickening, Fiber plants: biology, biotechnology and applications (2016)