401 Bradfield Hall
Molecular mechanisms of homologous chromosome pairing and recombination in meiosis.
Bradfield Hall, Room 403
Molecular mechanisms governing meiosis, in particular homologous chromosome pairing and meiotic recombination.
Univ of Minnesota
My goal is to understand the basis of inheritance in plants by studying the mechanisms of meiosis, particularly pairing of homologous chromosomes and meiotic recombination. Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division that reduces the chromosome number in the nucleus from 2n to 1n and leads to the production of gametes. During the prophase of meiosis, homologous chromosomes, one from the mother and the other one from the father, pair with each other, synapse, and exchange parts (recombine). These processes are essential for accurate transmission of genetic material from parents to the progeny. Meiosis is also the single most important source of genetic variation, which is the basis of plant breeding. The past decade has brought dramatic improvements in the knowledge of meiotic processes. However, many aspects of meiosis remain very poorly understood. The research in my lab focuses on two of such areas: the mechanism of homologous chromosome pairing and the regulation of meiotic recombination. We combine classical genetics and cutting-edge genomic, proteomic, and molecular genetic approaches, with state-of-the-art 3-dimensional microscopy to identify genes, proteins, and pathways that play key roles in meiosis. We use three model plant systems, maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa), two of the most important crop plants in the world, and a common weed, Arabidopsis thaliana.
(1) Chromosome pairing: To elucidate the mechanism of chromosome pairing, we study maize and Arabidopsis mutants in which chromosomes, instead of pairing with their proper homologous partners, promiscuously associate with non-homologous chromosomes. We use these mutants to find out (i) what is the mechanism of homologous chromosome pairing, (ii) what is the relationship between chromosome pairing and meiotic recombination, and (iii) how are meiotic recombination, paring, and synapsis coordinated. (2) Regulation of meiotic recombination: Our long-term goal is to elucidate the mechanisms that regulate recombination rates in plants. To do this, we work to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting recombination frequencies in maize. We also investigate whether increased recombination rates can be achieved in plants by knocking-out or overexpressing known recombination proteins.
I teach PlBr 606 Advanced Plant Genetics.