Geneticist and Director, Institute of Forest Genetics, US Forest Service
Associate Adjunct Professor, Dept Plant Biology, UC Davis, Davis, CA 96518
My laboratory studies the development and evolution of mechanisms regulating secondary growth in woody plants. Secondary growth is supported by a poorly understood lateral meristem, the vascular cambium. Secondary growth is evolutionarily ancient within seed plants, is represented by a rich paleological record enabled by good preservation of lignified woody tissues, and is of both ecological and economic importance. Secondary, woody growth represents a key innovation in seed plant evolution. In addition, there is a fascinating diversity of adaptive character traits associated with secondary growth that present the opportunity to investigate evolution of traits across wide taxonomic distances, as well as rapid diversification within closely related species.
Importantly, the study of the cambium and secondary growth is now supported by advanced genomic tools within the genus Populus. Populus are widespread across the northern hemisphere and includes a rich array of species that inhabit dramatically different environments and display correspondingly diverse life habits. My lab is using genetic and genomic tools to answer questions pertaining to the basal mechanisms regulating such characters as the long term maintenance of meristematic stem cells within the cambium, pattern formation and polarity of woody tissues, and the control of cell differentiation within woody stems. My lab has been involved in the development of Populus as a model, including participating in the initial annotation and interpretation of the Populus genome, use of microarrays and high throughput sequencing for analysis of gene expression, chromatin immunoprecipitation, whole mount in situ hybridizations for woody stems, and the use of transformation to undertake the detailed functional analysis of genes.