Leonor Boavida

Leonor Boavida Profile Picture

Assistant Professor

Contact Info:

Phone :765-494-0031
Office: WSLR232
Google Scholar

Training Group(s):
Plant Biology

Active Mentor - currently hosting PULSe students for laboratory rotations and recruiting PULSe students into the laboratory; serves on preliminary exam committees

Current Research Interests:

Cell and Developmental Biology; Cell-Cell Signaling; Gamete Biology and Plant Fertilization

The union of a sperm and an egg is one of the most remarkable examples of cell-cell recognition: upon membrane contact, two haploid sex cells or gametes fuse to create a brand new organism.

In flowering plants, the occurrence of two separate gametic fusions (double fertilization) add another level of complexity to the cellular interactions that happen during fertilization: twin sperm cells fuse with distinctive efficacy with each of the female gametes, the egg and the central cell to form the zygote and the nourishing endosperm. This means that flowering plants evolved a new set or adapted a pre-existing signal transduction machinery to ensure the precise fusion of two pairs of gametes. However, the molecular partners and signaling pathways that regulate gamete interactions remain unclear.

The research in our lab seeks to understand the cellular and molecular basis of plant fertilization. To achieve this goal we use a variety of experimental techniques including fluorescent activated cell sorting, advanced live cell imaging, genetic, molecular and functional genomic tools. Current projects in the lab include: (1) determining the role of Tetraspanin-associated membrane microdomains in gamete function; (2) identifying signaling pathways regulating gamete interactions and double fertilization.

This work aims to fulfill our quest to understand basic principles that regulate a fundamental biological process that sustain life and plant diversity. We will then be able to apply this knowledge to develop novel and more efficient strategies aimed to manipulate plant fertilization, introduce desirable reproductive traits or increase and stabilize crop productivity.

Selected Publications:

Boavida L.C. and Becker J. D. (2016) Plant Evolution: What Does It Take To Be an Egg? Curr. Biol. (26):R527-30.2.    

Jiang H., Yi J., Boavida L.C., Chen Y., Becker J.D., Köhler C., McCormick S. (2015) Intercellular communication in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen discovered via AHG3 transcript movement from the vegetative cell to sperm. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(43): 13378–13383.  

Boavida, L.C., Peng Q., Broz M., Becker J.D., McCormick S. (2013) Arabidopsis Tetraspanins are confined to discrete expression domains and cell types in reproductive tissues and form homo- and hetero-dimers when expressed in yeast. Plant Physiol.163:696-712.   

Borges F., Gardner R., Lopes T., Calarco J.P., Boavida L.C., Slotkin R.K., Martienssen R.A., Becker J.D. (2012) FACS-based purification of Arabidopsis microspores, sperm cells and vegetative nuclei. BMC Plant Methods: 8-44.   

Boavida L.C., Borges F.S., Becker J.D., Feijo J.A. (2011) Whole-genome analysis of gene expression reveals coordinated activation of signaling and metabolic pathways during pollen-pistil interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 155:2066-2080.   

Cheung, A.Y, Boavida, L.C., Aggarwal, M., Wu, H-M, Feijo J. (2010) The pollen tube journey in the pistil and imaging the in vivo process by two-photon microscopy. J. Exp. Bot. 61:1907-1915.   

Boavida L.C., Shuai B., Yu H.J., Pagnussat G.C., Sundaresan V., McCormick S. (2009) A collection of Ds insertional mutants associated with defects in male gametophyte development and function in Arabidopsis thaliana. Genetics 181 (4), 1369-1385.    

Boavida, L.C. and McCormick, S. (2007) Temperature as a determinant factor for increased and reproducible in vitro pollen germination in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant J. 52:570-582.

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