I am interested in understanding the response of the plant to a viral infection, so my lab studies virus-plant interactions using a variety of methods and plant-virus models.
Geminiviruses are the main subject of my research and arabidopsis is the plant model we favored, but we also do research in tomato, cassava and N. benthamiana. However, we also study potyviruses (Cassava brown streak disease) and use other viruses as vehicles for gene silencing (TRV for arabidopsis and tomato). We are also interested in using multispectral systems to scan leaves and identify early signatures of virus presence (way earlier than the onset of symptoms) to properly rogue or eliminate viral dispersion.
Our grants study virus evolution and diversity (PIRE-NSF) or molecules enhancing symptoms and mechanisms for resistance (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). We also have direct links with industry trying to define how to use aptamers to induce resistance against viruses in tomato (MicroPEP) or using small chemicals to inhibit replication functions (Atomwise).
Our Biochemistry Undergraduate Research and Training Program (BURT-P) hosts undergraduate researchers that are doing incredible work, among them:
They are investigating how geminivirus induces senescence in arabidopsis, using tubulin-GFP fusions to visualize the effect of different viruses in the leaves.
Another group is pursuing understanding the involvement of CDKs (Cyclin-dependent kinase like) in Arabidopsis response to geminivirus infection.
They are also using NMR to define binding properties of small molecules to Rep, a protein absolutely necessary for geminivirus replication.
Furthermore, they are also characterizing infectious clones of several geminiviruses using a small tomato variety (Lanai).
Our graduate students are determining the involvement of Arabidopsis response regulator 7 (ARR7) in the infection.
Area(s) of Expertise
Plant responses to virus infection. Virus evolution. Virus-induced Senescence. Multispectral virus detection. Virus inoculations. Biolistics.