Western Science Center 341
(519) 661-2111 x 86898
Genomics of plant-pest interaction
In order to develop alternative pest control strategies for sustainable agriculture, it is important to understand the interaction between plants and their herbivores. We are using Arabidopsis thaliana, tomato and grapevine as plant models, and the newly established chelicerate model Tetranychus urticae (spider mite) to uncover genomic responses of both organisms during plant-herbivore interaction. This work is part of an international collaborative initiative (GAP-M, Genomics in Agricultural Pest Management) that is funded by Genome Canada and Ontario Genomics Institute, and by Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
Arabidopsis developmental genetics
The aim of my research is to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern diversity of plant shoot forms. We are using the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana for which excellent molecular-genetic resources are available and thousands of wild inbred strains have been collected, including some (e.g. Sy-0) with altered shoot morphology. We initially identified changes in the expression of flowering time genes FLC, FRI and HUA2, as required for the establishment of the Sy-0 phenotype and the lab is now focused on understanding the functions of the HUA2 gene, a putative pre-mRNA processing factor. We are also analyzing natural genetic variations in the floral regulator MAF2 that is a member of the tandemly duplicated cluster of MADS-box containing transcription factors in Arabidopsis thaliana.
The overall goal is to exploit fundamental knowledge to develop novel tools for sustainable agriculture and development of novel materials. To date, two applications are under development:
a) RNAi-based pest control for the spider mite
b) spider mite silk as natural bio nanomaterial