In the future, the range of bioproducts produced from plant biomass will be immense. The starting material, the polysaccharides and lignin of the plant cell wall, are complex. The goal of our lab is to understand polysaccharide biosynthesis, and use this knowledge to deliver optimized biomass for the bioeconomy. Our work focuses on sorghum (a biomass crop in the US), with some work in switchgrass, poplar and Arabidopsis (a model plant, which we use for initial experiments). We use a combination of systems and synthetic biology, protein functional characterization, and biophysics (solid state NMR) to explore polysaccharide biosynthesis at multiple scales. We are also interested in how alterations to the cell wall can affect plant-microbe-environment interactions.
- Nanoarchitecture of the cell wall using 13C labelling/multi-dimensional solid state NMR
- Identifying and characterizing novel glycosyltransferases and nucleotide sugar transporters (primary and secondary cell wall, glycosylated sphingolipids)
- Developing new methods for sorghum transformation and cell culture
Developing sorghum CAZy database
Bridging understanding between lab- and field-grown plants using ‘omics
- m-CAFEs SFA – using fabricated ecosystems to explore plant-microbe interactions across scales (led by Trent Northen and Adam Deutschbauer, LBNL)
Sorghum Metabolic Atlas – high-throughput subcellular localisation of sorghum proteins to enhance metabolic modelling (led by Sue Rhee, Carnegie Plants, Stanford).
See Google Scholar profile for complete list.
- “Progress and challenges in sorghum biotechnology, a multi-purpose feedstock for the bioeconomy,” Journal of Experimental Botany (2021)
- “Nanotechnology to advance CRISPR-Cas genetic engineering of plants,” Nature Nanotech (2021)
- “The Arabidopsis thaliana nucleotide sugar transporter GONST2 is a functional homolog of GONST1,” Plant Direct (2021)
- “A grass-specific cellulose–xylan interaction dominates in sorghum secondary cell walls,” Nature Communications (2020) Link to news release
- “Cell wall esters facilitate forest responses to climate,” Trends in Plant Science (2020)
- “Synthesis and function of complex sphingolipid glycosylation,” Trends in Plant Science (2020)
- “Iron Supplementation Eliminates Antagonistic Interactions Between Root Associated Bacteria,” Frontiers in Microbiology (2020)
- “No evidence for transient transformation via pollen magnetofection in several monocot species,” Nature Plants (2020)
- “Rhizobacteria mediate the phytotoxicity of a range of biorefinery‐relevant compounds,” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (2019)
- “GINT1 is a GIPC GlcNAc glycosyltransferase,” Plant Physiology (2018)