Plant Biology

Research includes:

  • Biofuels
  • Cell Biology and Morphogenesis
  • Cell Metabolism
  • Cell Signaling
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Plant Biology
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Plant Interaction with the Environment
  • Plant Interaction with the Pathogens

Training Group Mission:

The Plant Biology graduate program provides an opportunity for students to study a diverse array of aspects of plant sciences, including growth and development, cell biology, reproduction, physiology, metabolism, and gene expression. Students are provided with a broad-based curriculum that focuses on the study of basic plant sciences. Students conduct research employing multidisciplinary approaches to examine the biology of plants including molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics. The research of the Plant Biology group emphasizes basic plant sciences; however, many students are involved in projects that evaluate the biotechnological opportunities that stem from their research.

Faculty Membership

Research Area
Plant development and evolution
Cell and Developmental Biology; Cell-Cell Signaling; Gamete Biology and Plant Fertilization
Structure and biosynthesis of the plant cell wall; gene discovery in cell wall biology; improvement of grasses as lignocellulosic bioenergy crops
Biochemistry and molecular biology of plant secondary metabolism
Plant disease resistance; regulation of gene expression and signal transduction during plant defense responses to microbial pathogens

Plant-insect chemical ecology, biochemical spectroscopy, ecosystem ecology.

The genetic basis of reproductive barriers and molecular mechanisms of plant adaptation. Cost effective integration of genomics for comparative and forward genetics research approaches.
Plant primary and secondary metabolism
Mechanism of the transfer to and expression of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens Ti-plasmid in plant cells
Signal transduction, Transcription and gene regulation, High temperature stress, Growth factors/hormones/polyamines, Plant growth and development, Senescence, Phytonutrients, Fruit quality and postharvest shelf life
Root-Microbe Interactions and Root Development
Signaling in Pollination; Developmental Genetics; Cell Biology
Epigenetic regulation of transposable elements
Functional genomics; Epigenomics; Histone modification; Environmental responses; Systems Biology; Plant Genetics
Comparative, Evolutionary, and Translational Genomics
Plant extracellular matrix and cell differentiation

Plant-Biotic interactions. Community ecology. Evolutionary Game theory.

Genetic mechanisms of tree growth
Molecular Genetics of Plant Immunity - with emphasis on host defense response to necrotrophic fungi
Water use efficiency, plant nutrition, crop physiology

Ecological and evolutionary genetics: adaptation and adaptive traits (especially freezing tolerance and flowering time); heterosis; plant mating system evolution.

Regulation of cell identity, signal transduction, chromatin remodeling
Genetic and molecular control of photosynthetic light utilization
Cytoskeletal function during plant and fungal development and in response to environmental signals
Cell signaling and morphogenesis in the leaf epidermis
The lab is interested in plant transcriptional responses to environmental stimuli. Particularly, our interest is in the gene networks governing transcriptional responses and how these networks are altered when plants adapt to their environment.
Maize genetics, genomics, value-added traits

The Widhalm laboratory (@WidhalmLab) uses functional genomics approaches with synthetic biology tools to advance basic knowledge of plant metabolism. The goal of our research is to translate discoveries of new pathway genes and novel findings about pathway architecture and regulation to design metabolic engineering strategies for applications relevant to sustainable agriculture and toward improving human health. We are particularly interested in specialized plant quinones, compounds which have emerged as targets for developing novel natural product-based herbicides and novel therapeutic cancer drugs. In addition to gene discovery, we are working to understand the subcellular organization of specialized quinone pathways and their connections with primary metabolism.

Evolution of eukaryotic chemodiversity using genomics, network biology, and phylogenetics
Phytohormone ethylene biosynthesis and its signaling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana
Plant endomembrane trafficking; chemical biology
Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on two areas: 1) elucidating the physiological and molecular roles of plant vascular tissues in normal or stress condition and 2) improving crop yield and stress resistance via biotechnological approaches.
Research Area: Plant stem cells, transcriptional signaling in plant development, cell-cell communication, live imaging, quantitative developmental biology Active Mentor - currently hosting PULSe students for laboratory rotations and recruiting PULSe students into the laboratory; serves on preliminary exam committees

Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 170 | 155  S. Grant Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114 | 765-494-2600

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