Research Interests

As a plant biologist, I have studied the molecular mechanisms that allow plants, as sessile organisms, to cope with a continuously changing environment. The molecular responses to light, as a source of energy and a developmental signal, and nutrient availability are two fundamental processes that we have studied. To facilitate these studies we first had to develop gene transfer technology to produce transgenic plants. Using the natural gene transfer system of the soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, we were able to generate a reproducible system to introduce genes into plants cells that could be regenerated into mature plants. Using this system, we were able to identify DNA regulatory elements that allow plants to turn on genes in response to light stimuli and the protein sequence present in many of the corresponding gene products that allow their entry into the chloroplast, where they participate in the process of photosynthesis. More recently, my laboratory has shown that the release of organic acids into the soil plays an important role in making plants capable of utilizing insoluble nutrient forms. We are currently investigating the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to sense nutrient availability and the genes involved in changing the architecture of the root system to allow plants the exploration of novel soil domains to facilitate nutrient acquisition.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology