Area(s) of Expertise
Redirecting carbon metabolism to increase yield
Camelina sativa is an excellent oil crop for biofuel production because it grows with little water and fertilizer on marginal land. To improve camelina as a dedicated biofuel plant, we have increased its photosynthetic CO2-fixation rates by modifying CO2 transport, assimilation and allocation and reducing the cost of photorespiraton. To extend its agricultural range, we are improving its stress tolerance against heat and drought. We are currently working on new technologies to modify the plastid genome and introduce a synthetic, RUBISCO-independent CO2 fixation cycle.
Marine microalgae and cyanobacteria
We are focussing on the marine microalgae as a feedstock for bioenergy and as a platform for the production of industrial enzymes or biopharmaceuticals. Our group is developing tools for transformation of algae. We are using several different approaches to optimize lipid and fatty acid production through genetic engineering of metabolic pathways and flux. To identify endogenous regulators of lipid metabolism in Dunaliella, we are analyzing differential gene expression by nextgen sequencing of Dunaliella cultures grown under environmental conditions that modify lipid profiles.
Genomic networks of abiotic stress responses in roots.
Plant root growth and development is a major factor in the adaptation of plants to site, in the establishment of the architecture of the whole plant, and in the plant’s ability to take up, transport and sequester water and nutrients. The direction of primary root growth is guided by the vector of gravity and the plants ability to sense mechanical stress, light quality and direction, and nutrient availability. We have identified the transcriptional networks integrating the response of roots to changes in their orientation (gravity) and mechanical impedance. High-throughput mutant screens, pyrosequencing, cell biology, and microarray technology enabled us to identify key regulators of signaling pathways. We are currently using systems approaches and bioinformatics algorithms to characterize the integration of different directional stimuli into a single growth response on a cellular level. Many of the key factors are themselves regulated by miRNA and siRNA species, which led us to sequencing the entire sRNA population in Arabidopsis roots. We identified many novel sRNAs and miRNAs and are currently characterizing their function in post-transcriptional and translational control. This research has been funded by NASA and utilized the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle for the analysis of plant growth under microgravity.
- BIT 476/576 Applied Bioinformatics
- PB 751 Advanced Plant Physiology (Spring)
- PB 495/595 Innovation in Agricultural Biotechnology (Fall)
- Accumulation of medium-chain, saturated fatty acyl moieties in seed oils of transgenic Camelina sativa (2017)
- Amino acids are an ineffective fertilizer for Dunaliella spp. Growth (2017)
- Construction and setup of a bench-scale algal photosynthetic bioreactor with temperature, light, and ph monitoring for kinetic growth tests (2017)
- ROSY1, a novel regulator of gravitropic response is a stigmasterol binding protein (2016)
- Algal ancestor of land plants was preadapted for symbiosis (2015)
- Interaction of temperature and photoperiod increases growth and oil content in the marine microalgae Dunaliella viridis (2015)
- Methods for RNA profiling of gravi-responding plant tissues (2015)
- A novel gateway-compatible binary vector series (PC-GW) for flexible cloning of multiple genes for genetic transformation of plants (2015)
- A photorespiratory bypass increases plant growth and seed yield in biofuel crop Camelina sativa (2015)
- A physical map of the Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) genome and its integration with the genetic map (2013)
Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Goettingen, Germany (1993)
M.S., Biochemistry, University of Goettingen, Germany (1990)