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Damon R Lisch

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Associate Professor
WSLR Room B032

Dr. Lisch is interested in the regulation and evolution of plant transposable elements.  Transposable elements, or transposons, are, by far, the most dynamic part of the eukaryotic genome, and the majority, often the vast majority, of plant genomes are composed of these genomic parasites. Although they are an important source of genetic novelty, transposons can also be a significant source of detrimental mutations.  Because of this, plants (and indeed all eukaryotes) have evolved a sophisticated "immune system" whose function is to detect and epigenetically silence them.  Dr. Lisch's research centers on determining the means by which transposons are detected and then maintained in a silenced state.  To do this, the Lisch lab has focused on MuDR, a transposon in maize that can be reliably and heritably silenced by a naturally occurring derivative of that element.  Of course, epigenetic silencing is employed by plants and animals for a wide variety of other purposes, and epigenetic silencing pathways in plants are particularly diversified. However, whatever else they do, all of these pathways appear to be involved in transposon silencing as well, making transposons an excellent model for understanding how epigenetic information is encoded and propagated.  Finally, transposon mobilization and subsequent silencing can have dramatic effects on the expression of plant genes.  Current work in the Lisch lab combines a detailed analysis of MuDR transposon silencing with a global analysis of the effects of transposon silencing on plant gene  function and  phenotypic variation.

Selected Publications

Lisch, D. R., & Burns, K. H. (2018). Editorial overview: Genome architecture and expression: Mobile elements at work. 49, IV-V. doi:10.1016/j.gde.2018.05.003

Zhao, M., Zhang, B., Mae, J., & Lisch, D. R. (2018). Genome-wide Estimation of Evolutionary Distance and Phylogenetic Analysis of Homologous Genes. BIO-PROTOCOL, 8(23). doi:10.21769/BioProtoc.3097

Wendel, J. F., Lisch, D. R., Hu, G., & Mason, A. S. (2018). The long and short of doubling down: polyploidy, epigenetics, and the temporal dynamics of genome fractionation. CURRENT OPINION IN GENETICS & DEVELOPMENT, 49, 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.gde.2018.01.004

Xu, J., Wang, Q., Freeling, M., Zhang, X., Xu, Y., Mao, Y., . . . Lu, Y. (2017). Natural antisense transcripts are significantly involved in regulation of drought stress in maize. NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH, 45(9), 5126-5141. doi:10.1093/nar/gkx085

Zhao, M., Zhang, B., Lisch, D. R., & Ma, J. (2017). Patterns and Consequences of Subgenome Differentiation Provide Insights into the Nature of Paleopolyploidy in Plants. PLANT CELL, 29(12), 2974-2994. doi:10.1105/tpc.17.00595

Springer, N. M., Lisch, D. R., & Li, Q. (2016). Creating Order from Chaos: Epigenome Dynamics in Plants with Complex Genomes. 28(2), 314-325. doi:10.1105/tpc.15.00911

Freeling, M., Xu, J., Woodhouse, M., & Lisch, D. R. (2015). A Solution to the C-Value Paradox and the Function of Junk DNA: The Genome Balance Hypothesis. MOLECULAR PLANT, 8(6), 899-910. doi:10.1016/j.molp.2015.02.009

Lisch, D. R. (2015). Mutator and MULE Transposons. MICROBIOLOGY SPECTRUM, 3(2). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0032-2014

Li, Q., Gent, J. I., Zynda, G., Song, J., Makarevitch, I., Hirsch, C. D., . . . Springer, N. M. (2015). RNA-directed DNA methylation enforces boundaries between heterochromatin and euchromatin in the maize genome. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 112(47), 14728-14733. doi:10.1073/pnas.1514680112

Woodhouse, M. R., Cheng, F., Pires, J. C., Lisch, D. R., Freeling, M., & Wang, X. (2014). Origin, inheritance, and gene regulatory consequences of genome dominance in polyploids (vol 111, pg 5283, 2014) 111(17), 6527-6527. doi:10.1073/pnas.1405833111

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