Area of Expertise: Plant Molecular Biology - Molecular and cellular basis of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Due to their sessile nature, plants are constantly exposed to a variety of microbial pathogens and a multitude of environmental stresses and through evolution have developed a battery of disease resistance and stress tolerance mechanisms. The major research interest of our group is to understand the molecular and cellular basis of plant defense and stress responses. Our current research is focused on the following two areas:
1.Transcriptional regulation of plant defense and stress response—Activation of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses involves differential expression of a large number of plant genes. To better understand the underlying mechanisms of stress-induced transcriptional reprogramming, we are studying several plant-specific transcription factors including WRKY proteins for their roles and regulation in plant defense and stress responses.
2.Vesicle trafficking in plant defense and stress responses—Intracellular trafficking of membrane-coated vesicles plays an essential role in the communication among different intracellular compartments and between cell and its environment. In plants, autophagy and multivesicular bodies (MVBs) play an important role in plant resistance to microbial pathogen and tolerance to a broad spectrum of abiotic stresses. We are studying how these and related vesicle trafficking pathways are regulated during plant stress responses and contribute to the health and wellbeing of plants under biotic and abiotic stresses.
We use the model plant Arabidopsis and crop plant soybean for a majority of our research.