My laboratory has a long-standing effort in understanding signaling transduction mechanisms in plants, in particular how they pertain to mediating male-female interactions that underlie successful plant sexual reproduction. During fertilization in flowering plants (angiosperms), the precise delivery of immotile sperm cells to the egg apparatus is a fascinating biological process requiring complex cell-to-cell communication events between the sperm cell carrier (pollen tube) and the female reproductive tissues. While these processes are highly specialized, distinct from most biological processes in plants and animal reproduction, many aspects of their signal transduction pathways are conserved in their overarching themes. Therefore, we also have a major interest in advancing the understanding of signaling mechanisms that govern plant growth, development and how they cope with the environment. These two areas of our research often synergistically enhance each other facilitating depth in our investigation. Growth, the ability to produce seeds and to cope with environmental adversity ultimately underlie plant productivity. Though with a focus on advancing mechanistic understanding of fundamental processes, our work is increasingly intertwined with investigations in areas directly impacting agricultural problems such as how plant cope with environmental stresses during growth and they discriminate between self and non-self during reproduction to ensure hybrid vigor or overcome reproductive barriers to generate diversity.
Our current research is focus on a family of receptor kinases in the model plant Arabidopsis members of which are broadly functional in diverse plant processes, some critical for reproductive success, others underlie environmental stress-induced responses, such as those inflicted by adverse soil conditions, temperatures or pathogens. We rely on genetic, transgenic, biochemical, molecular and cell biological approaches that are well established in our lab. We also often explore and incorporate new approaches as our research requires or will benefit from them. We anticipate an active phase where we explore biophysical approaches to advance our research from a structural perspective.
Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Postdoc., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Plant Molecular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA