Plant Biology and Agricultural Research at the NMC is supported by internationally recognized expertise in genome research, microbiology, immunology, structural biology, bioinformatics, and modeling, and brings together scientists from across the world to collaborate on global challenges. Plant Biology and Agricultural research at the NMC includes these projects:
Breaking Barriers to the Study of Trait-Dependent Lineage Diversification
Emma Goldberg, LANL Staff Scientist and NMC Affiliate
Orlando Schwery, NMC Postdoc
Many different organismal traits could affect the chances of a species producing a new species or going extinct. Phylogenetic trees of the relationships between species can provide powerful insights into this process of trait-dependent lineage diversification. This NSF-sponsored project is developing new models that incorporate speciation, extinction, and trait evolution, and it is creating new testing frameworks for the reliability of such methods. The project’s empirical applications are testing whether the mode of reproduction or number of genomic copies is associated with speciation or extinction rates in the nightshade plant family.
Developing an Infrastructure and Product Test Pipeline to Deliver Novel Therapies for Citrus Greening Disease
Goutam Gupta, NMC Senior Researcher
Supratim Basu, NMC Researcher
U.S. Citrus growers have a critical need for grove-deployable management practices that keep healthy citrus from becoming infected and infected trees from becoming symptomatic. This project presents a systems-based pipeline approach delivering commercial, grove-deployable solutions using a novel therapeutic delivery strategy and citrus transgenics. This research is focused on obtaining practical solutions to the Citrus Health Research Program by analyzing the current status of research, important technology gaps, and grower needs.
Development of a Genetic Transformation System for Biosynthesis of Guar Gum in Prairie Cordgrass
Shawn Starkenburg, LANL Staff Scientist
The goal of the project is to test the feasibility of creating a genetic transformation system for prairie cordgrass, a candidate feedstock plant for the production of biofuels and/or commodity chemicals. Through this project we will draft the genome of Spartina pectinatus (prairie cordgrass), identify relevant promoters/terminators to facilitate expression of transgenes, and test common protocols that enable plant regeneration. If successful, we will attempt to express colormetric reporter genes in Spartina to verify and validate stable transformation.
Effects of Spectral Downshifting Photoluminescent Quantum Dot Films on the Growth of Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Principle investigators: Dr. Matt Bergren, UbiQD and Dr. Damon Hebert, UbiQD
UbiQD has developed spectral downshifting photoluminescent quantum dot films made specifically for the greenhouse agricultural industry. At NMC, we are testing their effects on tomatoes and cucumbers, both in germination/early growth and in fruit production stages. Our films absorb UV and blue portions of the solar spectrum and downshift this light by emitting in the region of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), leading to improved spectral quality for plant growth. We are also testing light absorbing devices made from quantum dots that bring upper canopy light to the mid-canopy using optical fibers.
Structure-based Simulations of Riboswitches
Doonam Kim, LANL Staff Scientist, NMC Affiliate
Karissa Sanbonmatsu, LANL Staff Scientist, NMC Affiliate
Scott Hennelly, LANL Staff Scientist, NMC Affiliate
Structure-based study of long non-coding RNA. This research is important to fill the gap between genotype (DNA) and phenotype (protein).