Our Research

Our research is focused on endomembrane trafficking in plant cells. We are particularly interested in trafficking pathways involved in polysaccharide deposition and plant stress response. We employ multidisciplinary research approaches, including chemical biology, organelle proteomics and glycomics, genetics, quantitative advanced imaging and modeling.

  • In plant cytokinesis, a process fundamentally different from cytokinesis in animals, de novo formation of a cell plate that is maturing into a new cell wall partitions the cytoplasm of the dividing cell. The development of new cell walls during division is of profound importance to all plant life on earth, yet fundamental questions remain unanswered. Taking a chemical biology approach, we identified and characterized the small molecule Endosidin 7, which affects specifically cell plate maturation. Using ES7 as a tool, we dissect mechanisms that control plant cytokinesis. In parallel, with 4D imaging we determine the spatio-temporal distribution of vesicles contributing to cell plate formation. To understand the role of callose in cell plate expansion, we develop a biophysical model predicting the role of a spreading force generated by callose for cell plate development. Cumulative, our goal is to develop a comprehensive spatio-temporal model of cell plate formation. We are developing a cytokinesis animation that can be used for educational purposes.

Taking advantage of the freshwater alga Penium margaritaceum, with a cell wall composition similar that of land plants, we investigate the evolutionary role of cytokinetic callose in this unicellular alga.

Asmundson Hall
Asmundson Hall
  • Using a combination of vesicle proteomic/glycomic analyses we identified both protein and polysaccharide cargo transported through the trans-Golgi network. This will allow us and others to investigate how glycans, while in the endomembrane system, change during plant development or in response to environmental stimuli.  We identified many new components/players and we are currently investigating their biological role in plant development and plant stress response. One of these players is AtTRAPPC11.
  • Further, we have developed a series of imaging tools and methodologies for the detection of sodium, potassium and chloride at the subcellular level. We use these tools in combination with cellular barrier characterization to understand salinity stress response across a root developmental gradient in pistachio and almond rootstocks. Our efforts are intended to assist in the characterization of complex mechanisms that control salinity stress of woody plants.
  • Collaborators: Dr. Dan Cox and Muhammad Zaki, department of Physics UCD. Dr. Janet Iwasa and Grace Hsu, University of Utah. Dr. Domozych, Skidmore College. Dr. Comai, Dr. PJ Brown, Dr. Jernstedt, Dr. Blanco-Ulate UCD.

If you are interested in our research and like to join us in our exciting journey into the heart of plant growth and development please contact Dr. Georgia Drakakaki at gdrakakaki@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-1664, or stop by to visit our lab.