Sugars are one of the fundamental building blocks of life. Whether glycosylating proteins or lipids, or as complex polysaccharides, they are essential to the health of the cell. However, unlike, DNA and protein, these complex sugar molecules are built without an apparent template. An enormous number of combinations are possible due to the different starting molecules (monosaccharides) and the myriad ways they can be linked together. We know that assembly is carefully controlled by the organism, since serious pathologies can result when this process goes wrong. Yet, we know surprisingly little about how this happens.
My research focus is to understand the mechanisms that drive glycan assembly. This includes making the substrates (the nucleotide sugars), transporting them to the correct compartment in the cell, and synthesizing the polysaccharides Questions about how these processes are regulated, as well as how the completed molecules are exported to the wall are essential if we want to engineer biomass to produce the fuels and materials that we will require in the future.
- Developing new methods for sorghum transformation and cell culture
- Developing new bioinformatics tools for sorghum researchers
- Biochemically and biophysically characterizing the plant secondary cell wall
- Bridging understanding between lab- and field-grown plants using ‘omics
- Identifying and characterizing novel glycosyltransferases and nucleotide sugar transporters, especially those responsible for sorghum secondary cell wall synthesis
- Engineering plant biomass with increased hexose content by manipulating mannan biosynthesis
- Investigating the biosynthesis and function of glycosylated sphingolipids (GIPCs)
- Developing a high-throughput bioactivity platform (in collaboration with Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Ben Brown, and Mina Bissell)
- Design and prototyping of a replicated mesocosm system for bridging lab and field research (in collaboration with Gary Andersen, Mary Maxon, and Louise Glass)
See Google Scholar profile for complete list.
- “GLUCOSAMINE INOSITOLPHOSPHORYLCERAMIDE TRANSFERASE1 (GINT1) is a GlcNAc-containing glycosylinositol phosphorylceramide glycosyltransferase“, Plant Physiology (2018)
- “Suppressing Arabidopsis GGLT 1 affects growth by reducing the L‐galactose content and borate cross‐linking of rhamnogalacturonan II“, Plant Journal (2018)
- “A Transcriptomic Analysis of Xylan Mutants Does Not Support the Existence of a Secondary Cell Wall Integrity System in Arabidopsis“, Frontiers in Plant Sciences (2018)
- “Overexpression of a rice BAHD acyltransferase gene in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) enhances saccharification“, BMC Biotechnology (2018)
- “Eudicot plant-specific sphingolipids determine host selectivity of microbial NLP cytolysins“, Science (2017)
- “Structural Analysis of Cell Wall Polysaccharides Using PACE”, Xylem: Methods and Protocols (2017)
- “Folding of xylan onto cellulose fibrils in plant cell walls revealed by solid-state NMR”, Nature Communications (2016)
- “Loss of Inositol Phosphorylceramide Sphingolipid Mannosylation Induces Plant Immune Responses and Reduces Cellulose Content in Arabidopsis”, Plant Cell (2016)
- “Probing the molecular architecture of Arabidopsis thaliana secondary cell walls using two- and three-dimensional (13)C solid state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy”, Biochemistry (2015)
- “An unusual xylan in Arabidopsis primary cell walls is synthesised by GUX3, IRX9L, IRX10L and IRX14”, Plant J (2015)
- “Absence of branches from xylan in Arabidopsis gux mutants reveals potential for simplification of lignocellulosic biomass“, PNAS (2010)