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.
- Structural determination of a full-length plant cellulose synthase informed by experimental and in silico methods, CELLULOSE (2024)
- Efficient imaging and computer vision detection of two cell shapes in young cotton fibers, APPLICATIONS IN PLANT SCIENCES (2022)
- Leveraging National Germplasm Collections to Determine Significantly Associated Categorical Traits in Crops: Upland and Pima Cotton as a Case Study, FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE (2022)
- Microtubules exert early, partial, and variable control of cotton fiber diameter, PLANTA (2021)
- Phenotypic effects of changes in the FTVTxK region of an Arabidopsis secondary wall cellulose synthase compared with results from analogous mutations in other isoforms, PLANT DIRECT (2021)
- In silico structure prediction of full-length cotton cellulose synthase protein (GhCESA1) and its hierarchical complexes, Cellulose (2020)
- Cultures of Gossypium barbadense cotton ovules offer insights into the microtubule-mediated control of fiber cell expansion, Planta (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)
- Structure/function relationships in the rosette cellulose synthesis complex illuminated by an evolutionary perspective, Cellulose (2018)