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Joshua R Widhalm

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture 

  • Assistant Professor of Horticulture
Horticulture Room 112
625 Agriculture Mall Dr
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Dr. Joshua Widhalm earned his Ph.D. via the Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying plant quinone metabolism.  Then, he did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Natalia Dudareva in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University investigating the metabolism of phenylalanine and phenylalanine-derived natural products in plants.  From 2012-2015, Dr. Widhalm was a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow sponsored by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Dr. Widhalm’s research program is focused on plant allelochemicals, natural products released into the environment that influence the growth and development of other species.  He is particularly interested in elucidating the biosynthesis of allelopathic naphthoquinones and investigating their metabolic connection with quinones involved in respiration and photosynthesis.  His research on allelopathic naphthoquinones will also encompass deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in their release into the environment, determining their biochemical modes of action, and exploring their roles in promoting (a)biotic stress resistance.  The long term goal of Dr. Widhalm’s research program is to translate the gained basic knowledge into innovative strategies to harness plant allelochemicals for crop improvement.  Dr. Widhalm is also working on identifying new naturally-occurring derivatives of plant naphthoquinones, which have emerged as promising anti-cancer drugs.

Awards & Honors

(2019) Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Nominee. The Richard L. Kohls Early Career Teaching Award, College of Agriculture, Purdue University.

(2018) Scialog Fellow for Chemical Machinery of the Cell. Research Corporation for Science Advancement and The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

(2017) Bravo Award. Purdue University.

(2015) Don Carlson Outstanding Postdoc Award. Purdue University.

(2012) Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Fellow. The Life Sciences Research Foundation.

Selected Publications

Li, Y., Brooks, M., Yeoh-Wang, J., McCoy, R. M., Rock, T. M., Pasquino, A., . . . Coruzzi, G. M. (2020). SDG8-Mediated Histone Methylation and RNA Processing Function in the Response to Nitrate Signaling. Plant physiology, 182(1), 215-227. doi:10.1104/pp.19.00682

Block, A. K., Yakubova, E., & Widhalm, J. R. (2019). Specialized naphthoquinones present in Impatiens glandulifera nectaries inhibit the growth of fungal nectar microbes. Plant Direct, 3(5), e00132. doi:10.1002/pld3.132

Smith, S. D., Angelovici, R., Heyduk, K., Maeda, H. A., Moghe, G. D., Pires, J. C., . . . Wisecaver, J. (2019). The renaissance of comparative biochemistry. American Journal of Botany, 106(1), 3-13. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1216

McCoy, R. M., Utturkar, S. M., Crook, J. W., Thimmapuram, J., & Widhalm, J. R. (2018). The origin and biosynthesis of the naphthalenoid moiety of juglone in black walnut. Horticulture Research, 5, 67. doi:10.1038/s41438-018-0067-5

Adebesin, F., Widhalm, J. R., Lynch, J. H., McCoy, R., & Doudareva, N. (2018). A peroxisomal thioesterase plays auxiliary roles in plant β-oxidative benzoic acid metabolism. Plant Journal, (93), 905-916. doi:10.1111/tpj.13818

Henry, L. K., Thomas, S. T., Widhalm, J. R., Lynch, J. H., Davis, T. C., Kessler, S. A., . . . Dudareva, N. (2018). Contribution of isopentenyl phosphate to plant terpenoid metabolism. Nature Plants, 4(9), 721-729. doi:10.1038/s41477-018-0220-z

Adebesin, F., Widhalm, J. R., Boachon, B., Lefèvre, F., Pierman, B., Lynch, J. H., . . . Doudareva, N. (2017). Emission of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers is facilitated by an ABC transporter. (cover article) Science, 356(6345), 1386-1388. doi:10.1126/science.aan0826

Widhalm, J. R., & Rhodes, D. (2016). Biosynthesis and molecular actions of specialized 1,4-naphthoquinone natural products produced by horticultural plants. Horticulture Research, 3, 16046. doi:10.1038/hortres.2016.46

Widhalm, J. R., Gutensohn, M., Yoo, H., Adebesin, F., Qian, Y., Guo, L., . . . Doudareva, N. (2015). Identification of a plastidial phenylalanine exporter that influences flux distribution through the phenylalanine biosynthetic network. Nature Communications, 6(8142). doi:10.1039/ncomms9142

Widhalm, J. R., Jaini, R., Morgan, J. A., & Dudareva, N. (2015). Rethinking how volatiles are released from plant cells. Trends in Plant Science, 20(9), 545-50. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2015.06.009

Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010 USA, (765) 494-1300

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