All living things must be able to sense and respond to their environment in order to survive and thrive. Plants are unable to move in order to seek better environmental conditions or to avoid pathogens and pests. Instead, they have a large number of cell surface receptors that collect information about environmental conditions and pathogen presence. The information gathered by these receptors is integrated by the plant cell and used to guide energy expenditures that optimize growth and immune activation. Our lab studies these receptors so that we can understand what signals each one perceives, how the receptors interact to combine the information that each one gathers, and how they evolved to perform these functions. To do this we use a variety of techniques in the wet lab combined with computational analyses of large data-sets. We focus on the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana, and then take our discoveries from that system and translate them into improved crop varieties to support local agriculture.
- Plant Biology
- Systems Biology