Research Interests

My laboratory investigates the molecular processes controlling development of specialized cells in higher plants, specifically (1) organization of genes in the genome; (2) mechanisms that control the regulation of plant gene expression; (3) genes that control the differentiation of specific plant cell types; and (4) events that cause an undifferentiated cell to take on a specialized state. My laboratory has uncovered a gene, designated at TA29, that is required for pollen grain production. In collaboration with others we used the TA29 gene transcriptional control region to genetically engineer a system for male-fertility control in crop plants. This system is able to generate male-sterile plants and restore their fertility and allows development of new canola varieties with increased yield. We are now using the scarlet runner bean as a genomics engine to uncover genes that are important for embryo and seed development. We have been micro-dissecting giant bean embryos into distinct regions and using EST sequencing and reverse genetic approaches in Arabidopsis to uncover genes that are important for controlling embryo development shortly after fertilization. The long-term goal is to identify all the genes required to make a seed.

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Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology