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Christopher J Staiger

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Department Head and Distinguished Professor
LILY Room 1446

The ultimate goal of our research is to understand how a network of filamentous structures, the cytoskeleton, functions during plant growth and response to biotic and abiotic stimuli.Cytoskeletal polymers called actin filaments power diverse cellular motility events.Although plant cells are not motile, actin filaments contribute to the dynamic intracellular movement of organelles and vesicles, coordinate endo- and exocytosis, and organize the cellular architecture. In addition to mechanochemical enzymes or motor proteins, including the myosins that hydrolyze ATP to run along cytoskeletal tracks, the energy of actin polymerization itself can be harnessed to perform work. Actin dynamics, or the rapid turnover of actin filaments, play a central role in these cellular processes.A large and diverse cast of characters, accessory proteins known as actin-binding proteins, modulate actin dynamics through binding to the monomer pool, interacting with the side and ends of filaments, creating breaks along a filament, and generating new filaments de novo.We use a combination of biochemistry, cell biology and advanced imaging technologies, as well as reverse-genetics to understand the properties and function of plant actin-binding proteins. Recent biochemical and single filament imaging analyses of several conserved classes of plant actin-binding proteins reveal unusual and unexpected properties.Notable examples include: an abundant monomer-binding protein (CAP) that catalyzes nucleotide exchange; a barbed-end capping protein (CP) that is dissociated from filament ends by the signaling lipid, phosphatidic acid; a villin-like bundling protein (VLN1) that lacks all Ca2+-regulated activities; and a formin family member (AFH1) that is non-processive and is sufficient to generate actin filament bundles.These and other recent discoveries motivate a careful description of the properties of plant proteins in vitro as a prelude to greater insight about the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the regulation of actin dynamics in vivo.


  • University Faculty Scholar, Purdue University (2000-2005)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, Bonn, Germany (2001)
  • Seeds For Success, Purdue University (2006; 2010; 2011)
  • TEAM Award, Purdue College of Agriculture (2014)
  • Purdue College of Science Research Award (2015)
  • Fellow, American Society of Plant Biologists (2014)

Other Activities

Editorial Boards

  • The Plant Cell, co-editor (2005–2015)
  • Plant and Cell Physiology, editorial board member (2007–2010)
  • Cytoskeleton, editorial board member (2010-present)
  • Frontiers in Plant Science, associate editor (2013-present)
  • Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, co-editor (2015-present)
  • Molecular Plant, associate editor (2015-present)

Grant Review/Study Section

  • NSF
  • DOE
  • CRP-Santé, Luxembourg

Awards & Honors

(1998) Teaching for Tomorrow Award. Purdue University.

(2016) Founding Member. ASPB Legacy Society.

(2015) Associate Editor. Molecular Plant.

(2015) Purdue College of Science Research Award. Purdue University.

(2014) Fellow. American Society of Plant Biologists.

(2014) Purdue College of Agriculture TEAM Award. Purdue University.

(2013) Associate Editor. Frontiers in Plant Cell Biology.

(2011) Seeds for Success. Purdue University.

(2010) Seeds for Success. Purdue University.

(2006) Seeds for Success. Purdue University.

Selected Publications

Staiger, C. J., Sheahan, M. B., Khurana, P., Wang, X., McCurdy, D. W., & Blanchoin, L. (2009). Actin filament dynamics are dominated by rapid growth and severingactivity in the Arabidopsis cortical array. Journal of Plant Cell Biology, 184, 269-280.

Henty, J. L., Bledsoe, S. W., Khurana, P., Meagher, R. B., Day, B., Blanchoin, L., & Staiger, C. J. (2011). Arabidopsis Actin Depolymerizing Factor4 Modulates the StochasticDynamic Behavior of Actin Filaments in the Cortical Array of EpidermalCells. Plant Cell, 23(10), 3711-3726.

Li, J., Henty-Ridilla, J. L., Huang, S., Wang, X., Blanchoin, L., & Staiger, C. J. (2012). Capping Protein Modulates the Dynamic Behavior of Actin Filaments inResponse to Phosphatidic Acid in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 24(9), 3742-3754.

Henty-Ridilla, J. L., Shimono, M., Li, J., Chang, J. H., Day, B., & Staiger, C. J. (2013). The Plant Actin Cytoskeleton Responds to Signals from Microbe-Associated Molecular Patterns. PLoS Pathogens, 9(4), e1003290.

Henty-Ridilla, J. L., Li, J., Day, B., & Staiger, C. J. (2014). Actin Depolymerizing Factor4 regulates actin dynamics during innate immune signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 26, 340-352. doi:10.1105/tpc.114.123174

Li, J., Staiger, B. H., Henty-Ridilla, J. L., Abu-Abied, M., Sadot, E., Blanchoin, L., & Staiger, C. J. (2014). The availability of filament ends modulates actin stochastic dynamics in live plant cells. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 25, 1263-1275.

Cai, C., Henty-Ridilla, J. L., Szymanski, D. B., & Staiger, C. J. (2014). Arabidopsis Myosin XI: A motor rules the tracks. Plant Physiology, 166, 1359-1370.

Li, J., Staiger, B. H., Day, B., & Staiger, C. J. (2015). Capping protein integrates multiple MAMP signalling pathways to modulate actin dynamics during plant innate immunity. 6(7206). doi:10.1038/ncomms8206

Shimono, M., Lu, Y. J., Porter, K., Kvitko, B. H., Henty-Ridilla, J., Creason, A., . . . Day, B. (2016). The Pseudomonas syringae type III effector HopG1 induces actin filament remodeling in Arabidopsis in association with disease symptom development. Plant Physiology, 171, 2239-2255.

Li, J., Cao, L., & Staiger, C. J. (2016). Capping protein modulates actin remodeling in response to reactive oxygen species during plant innate immunity. Plant Physiology. doi:10.1104/pp.16.00992

Botany and Plant Pathology, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4614

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