Area(s) of Expertise
The research in the Haigler laboratory centers on cellulose synthesis and cotton fiber development. The fundamental new knowledge arising from our research is applicable to the production of next-generation value-added fiber and biomass crops through genetic engineering or marker-assisted selection.
Cellulose is the world’s most abundant renewable material, and it exists within plant cell walls as crystalline fibrils. These are formed by a membrane-associated protein complex that acts as a nanoscale fibril spinning machine. We are interested in filling in many gaps about how this fascinating and important natural manufacturing process is regulated by the cell. We use genetics and biochemistry to probe the structure and function of the cellulose synthesis complex. Our cellulose research is funded by the “Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (CLSF)”, an Energy Frontier Research Center led by Dr. Daniel Cosgrove at Pennsylvania State University and funded by the US Department of Energy.
We study cotton fiber, the world’s most important natural textile fiber, to understand the controls of cellular morphogenesis and fiber quality. Each cotton fiber is a single seed epidermal cell that becomes about three centimeters long and thickens by depositing nearly 100% cellulose into its secondary cell wall. We are particularly interested in the cellular, molecular, and biochemical processes that allow high quality fiber to form in the less commonly grown Gossypium barbadense (Pima cotton). Our goal is transfer high quality fiber to the higher yielding G. hirsutum cotton. Our cotton fiber research is funded by Cotton Incorporated (Cary, NC).
- Cellulose synthase "class specific regions' are intrinsically disordered and functionally undifferentiated, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology (2018)
- Two types of cellulose synthesis complex knit the plant cell wall together, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (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)
- 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, Sustainable Development and Biodiversity (2016)
- Cotton fiber tips have diverse morphologies and show evidence of apical cell wall synthesis, Scientific Reports (2016)
- Prediction of the structures of the plant-specific regions of vascular plant cellulose synthases and correlated functional analysis, Cellulose (2016)
- A structural study of CESA1 catalytic domain of arabidopsis cellulose synthesis complex: Evidence for CESA trimers, Plant Physiology (2016)
- The valine and lysine residues in the conserved FxVTxK motif are important for the function of phylogenetically distant plant cellulose synthases, Glycobiology (2016)
- 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, Cellulose (2015)
Ph.D., Botany, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1982)
B.A., Chemistry, Wake Forest University (1978)