Department of Genetics
Piscataway, NJ 08854-0759
The plastids of higher plants are genetically semi-autonomous: they have their own genome, transcription and translation machinery. Our long-term interest is to understand how coordinated expression of plastid and nuclear genes contribute to plastid function and plant development. We extensively use transgenic technology, which was pioneered for higher plant plastids in this laboratory. Our model plants are tobacco, Arabidopsis and tomato. (1) We study the multisubunit (PEP) and phage-type (NEP) plastid RNA polymerases: promoter architecture, recognition, polymerase composition and regulation of plastid gene expression utilizing a combination of in vitro biochemical and in vivo transgenic approaches. (2) We are working on the implementation of transplastomic technology in Arabidopsis thaliana. This research utilizes plant cell culture and phage recombinases that are suitable for the insertion of transforming DNA, marker gene excision, and to probe plastid gene function. (3) A new area is the study of the role of plastid proteases in plant development. (4) We are interested in the biotechnological applications of transplastomic technology, including expression of recombinant proteins for biomedical and industrial uses.