Current Research Projects
What are the early genetic and epigenetic events in the zygotic transition? Using rice as a model we are describing key genes and changes in the epigenome during this fundamental period and applying this knowledge to develop seed generation without egg cell fertilization. This process would allow for the proliferation of the beneficial traits of hybrid seed through multiple generations, greatly reducing the cost of production.
Understanding of how to clonally propagate hybrid seed is incredibly useful in propagating the benefits from the Green Revolution. Synthetic apomixis allows for the potential to continually produce generations of high-yielding hybrid seed through a process of "MiMe" (Mitosis instead of Meiosis) followed by introduction of an expressed Baby Boom 1 gene.
The haploid female gametophyte (embryo sac) is an essential reproductive unit of flowering plants comprised of four specialized cell types, including the female gametes. We are using molecular and genetic tools to identify key genes and mechanisms involved in the differentiation of these cells which rely on spatial signals to pattern the gametophyte.