Plant Biology

Plant Biology

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. NMC’s Biological Laboratory provides state of the art facilities to researchers from the NMC, Los Alamos National Laboratory, universities, and industry. The Laboratory includes a 12,000 square foot general use wet laboratory facilities, specialized laboratories, and a 4,000 square foot research greenhouse. This combination of capabilities and facilities enables scientists at the NMC to carry out forefront basic research on the role of immune systems in countering major pathogen threats. Plant Biology and Agricultural research at the NMC includes these projects:

Plant Biology research at New Mexico Consortium
Developing an Infrastructure and Product Test Pipeline to Deliver Novel Therapies for Citrus Greening Disease

Goutam Gupta, NMC Senior Researcher
Supratim Basu, NMC Researcher
Jeanette Valesquez

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.

An Integrative Genome-Wide Assessment of RNA Transport and Localization in Rice

Shawn Starkenburg

RNAs for the storage proteins glutelins and prolamines contain zipcode sequences, which target them to specific subdomains of the cortical endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in developing rice seeds. Hundreds of these RNA binding proteins (RBPs) specifically bind to the prolamine zipcode sequences and are likely to play an important role in the transport and localization of this storage protein RNA. To understand more, we propose to identify and globally characterize RBPs which belong to the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) class that bind specifically to the 5’CDS as well as to the 3’UTR zipcode RNAs.  RNA sequences depleted from total RNA via immunoprecipitation will be sequenced will Illumina based RNAseq methods and compared to untreated total RNA to identify new RNA candidates. All candidate RNAs will be analyzed for conserved motifs to determine the site of interaction with its cognate transport protein and the role of these domains will be verified via comparison to mutagenized RNA sequences.

UbiQD plant biology research at New Mexico Consortium Greenhouse
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.

Biofuels Research New Mexico Consortium
Biofuels Research
New Mexico Consortium research Greenhouse
Development of a Genetic Transformation System for Biosynthesis of Guar Gum in Prairie Cordgrass

Shawn Starkenburg


Plant Biology Research New Mexico Consortium
Spartina Biotech LLC Research
Plant research at New Mexico Consortium Greenhouse
Specifica’s Research
Pebble Labs Inc. Research