Faculty

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The faculty in the Plant Biology Graduate Group have wide-ranging research interests. These interests fall into four main specializations. There are over 60 faculty members in the PBGG from more than nine different departments spanning three of UC Davis' four colleges.

An alphabetical list of all faculty members affiliated with the Plant Biology Graduate Group is on this Web page, or you may view a list of faculty by specialization and research interests through the drop-down menu.

Chair of Plant Biology: Kentaro Inoue

Faculty in Focus Group:



Click on a faculty member's name to view his or her full profile.
An asterisk (*) denotes faculty members who are considering taking a student during the 2013 – 14 academic year. This information was last updated on June 24th, 2013.

abbennett@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology
kjbradford@ucdavis.edu Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology
Cell and Developmental Biology
Seed Biology
My research interests are in all aspects of seed biology, from the genetics, molecular biology and physiology of seed development, dormancy and germination to the production, storage, enhancement and utilization of seeds for agricultural purposes. I also am involved in mathematical modeling of seed germination responses to environmental inputs with applications for seed ecology. My disciplinary expertise is primarily in the hormonal regulation of plant growth and development and plant water relations. I am Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center and am engaged in research, extension and public service relevant to the seed and plant biotechnology industries.
abbritt@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology

Genetics of DNA repair and mutagenesis in the higher plant Arabidopsis. How plants repair and/or tolerate DNA damage generated by chemicals, UV light, and gamma radiation. Processes of genetic recombination, in meiotic and mitotic cells. Transcriptional regulation of damage response.
jcallis@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics

My laboratory studies two processes. The first is the ubiquitin pathway, which is a protein modification pathway, whereby the protein ubiquitin is covalently attached to other proteins. This alters the longevity, activity or localization of the ubiquitinated protein. We are interested in understanding the specificity and regulation of the ubiquitin pathway. We try to understand how proteins are recruited to the ubiquitinating enzymes. There are are large number of ubiquitinating enzymes whose functions are not known. We are taking a reverse genetics approach to understand the function of RING E3 ligases which interact with substrate proteins and catalyze ubiquitin transfer. We use a variety of techniques- biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics.

We also study a family of proteins called pfkB proteins, proteins related to E. coli phosphofructokinase, but which have diverse and uncharacterized roles. We are focusing on a subset of pfkB proteins localized to the plant plastid. Some of these are important for chloroplast transcription and we are determining their functions.
drcook@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Systematics and Evolutionary Biology
Environmental and Integrative Biology
chcrisosto@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Postharvest Fruit Physiologist
The goal of my research program is to gain a better understanding of the orchard and postharvest factors that control fruit flavor and storage quality. I am applying genomic techniques to identify gene(s) responsible for fruit organoleptic characteristics (both desirable and undesirable), and investigating physiological disorders such as chilling injury. We are also using sensory techniques, such as trained panels and “in store” consumer tests, to describe fruit flavor characteristics.
kdehesh@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology
Structural, molecular and biochemical analysis of fatty acid biosynthetic enzymes; Regulatory mechanism(s) controlling oxylipin branch pathways; molecular genetics of lipid signaling.
gdrakakaki@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics

Our research is focused on endomembrane trafficking in plant cells. A key area is how trafficking pathways control cell wall biosynthesis and polysaccharide deposition. Our group employs multidisciplinary research approaches, including the use of small molecules (chemical genomics), organelle proteomics and genetics.
csgasser@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Systematics and Evolutionary Biology
Molecular basis of plant development and evolution of development.
agroover@fs.fed.us Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
My lab studies the developmental biology of forest trees. We also develop molecular genetic and genomic tools for gene discovery and characterization for the model forest trees in the genus Populus.
jjharada@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Molecular, genetic, biochemical, and genomic dissection of embryogenesis and seed development in plants.
slharmer@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Understanding the molecular basis of circadian rhythms in plants and how these daily rhythms affect plant physiology.
kinoue@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
What are the biological significance and molecular bases of gene duplications?
We address this question by comparing properties and functions of two sets of prokaryote-derived homologous proteins in chloroplasts, namely protein translocation channel Toc75 and its paralog OEP80/Toc75-V; three type I signal peptidases, Plsp1, Plsp2A, Plsp2B).
Organelle Biogenesis - Protein evolution
How did the protein import channel in the organelle envelope evolve from a protein in the outer membrane of an ancestral cyanobacterium? We elucidate the functions and sorting/assembly mechanisms of Toc75 and OEP80/Toc75-V, which are homologous to a family of proteins essential for the viability of Gram-negative bacteria.
Organelle Biogenesis - Development of Membrane System
How do the intraorganellar membrane systems develop? We take three strategies. Strategy 1 is to define the molecular bases underlying thylakoid disruption due to the lack of signal peptide processing. In strategy 2, we elucidate the mechanism by which Plsp1 is sorted to the envelope and thylakoid within a chloroplast. In strategy 3, we attempt to address how citrus fruit peel changes its color from green to orange, then back to green. (dis-assembly and re-assembly of thylakoids).
jjernstedt@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Systematics and Evolutionary Biology
jmlabavitch@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology
Plant Cell Wall Research
My colleagues and I focus our research attention on aspects of plant development in which plant cell wall metabolism plays an important role. This includes studies of fruit ripening and the interactions of pathogens and insect pests with plants. In recent years our studies have also included aspects of cell wall disassembly that might be controlled and enhanced in order to optimize the generation of biofuels from crop plant "residues".
jclagarias@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology
Molecular Photobiology
Research in my laboratory focuses on the phytochrome superfamily, light sensing biliproteins that are widespread in eukaryotes (plants, algae, fungi, oomycetes and diatoms) and prokaryotes (both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic species). Phytochromes and cyanobacteriochromes are light-switches whose function depends on the light color. Plants, algae and cyanobacteria use these pigmented protein sensors to regulate photosynthesis-associated gene expression for optimum photosynthesis under the ambient light conditions and for regulation of growth, movement or reproduction to avoid suboptimal light conditions. Our studies utilize representative species from all lineages of oxygenic photosynthetic organisms, including cyanobacteria, green alga and plants. Mainly biochemical in nature, our research focuses on structure-function and molecular evolution of these optogenetic light sensors. Ongoing research seeks to leverage this knowledge for optimizing yield and agronomic performance of photosynthetic species used for food, fiber and energy production.
bliu@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Cell biology of the cytoskeleton and intracellular motility in plant and fungal cells. The dynamics of microtubules and actin microfilaments during plant cell division and cell growth. Roles of kinesin motor proteins in mitosis and cytokinesis. Molecular mechanisms of cytoskeleton-mediated hyphal growth in filamentous fungi. Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa (rice), and Gossypium hirsutum (cotton) as model systems for plant studies, and Aspergillus nidulans as a model for fungal studies.
wjlucas@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology

Our lab is interested in the evolution and function of plasmodesmata, the intercellular organelle of the plant kingdom that mediates in both nutrient delivery and cell-to-cell signaling of information macromolecules, including transcription factors and RNA-protein complexes. We are also working on cellular and molecular aspects of virus infection involving transport of infectious RNA/DNA through plasmodesmata, during local infection, and long-distance movement of virus through the phloem for systemic infection within the plant. A major current focus of our lab is the isolation and characterization of the proteins that constitute the supramolecular structure of plasmodesmata.These studies are providing insights into the mechanisms involved in the selective trafficking of proteins/RNA that contribute to supracellular control over plant growth and development. A second emphasis in the lab involves studies on the role of the plant vascular system, and the phloem in particular, as an information superhighway for the delivery of proteins and ribonucleoprotein complexes involved in regulating developmental events in distantly located tissues and organs.
jnmaloof@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics

Light is essential for plant growth. Perhaps as a consequence, plants have an intricate set of photoreceptors and responses that they use to optimize their development and physiology to suit their light environment. We study the ways in which plants have evolved differences in their light perception and responses that allow them to thrive in different environments. We are interested in both the genetic and molecular basis of variation in light response as well as the adaptive consequences. A combination of molecular and quantitative genetics is used in Arabidopsis, Tomato, and Brassica
tmmurphy@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Environmental and Integrative Biology

Enzymes of DNA repair. Identification of plants in forensic situations.
alpowell@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology

My primary research interest is to understand the roles of enzymes and proteins in developing and ripening fruit. I have three major research topics: 1. Identify functions in green fruit that can improve the resistance of red fruit to pathogens, 2. Determine how Golden 2-like transcription factors regulate chloroplasts in fruit prior to ripening, 3. Characterize proteins and enzymes that modify the plant cell wall during fruit ripening, 4. Develop transgenic rootstocks for grafting to improve scion products. I work primarily with tomato and Arabidopsis but have also worked with strawberry and melons. Our group works with necrotrophic fungal pathogens and transgenic plants to investigate the functions of proteins and enzymes. I have taught an undergraduate lab course on techniques used in research in the plant sciences (BIT 161B) and a course on scientific writing and proposal preparation (BIT/PLB188).
pcronald@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
nrsinha@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Systematics and Evolutionary Biology

Genetic and molecular analysis of compound leaf development in tomato. Evolution of plant form. Plasticity in cells and organs at the genomic level in response to developmental and environmental cues.
sundar@ucdavis.edu Cell and Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
For details please see the lab website at

Genetics and molecular biology of plant reproduction. Functional genomics in model plants- Arabidopsis and rice. Bioinformatics of small RNAs. Microbiomes and metagenomics.
smtheg@ucdavis.edu Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Genomics
Cell and Developmental Biology
Protein translocation across biological membranes, with a focus on chloroplast membranes. Mechanism of multimeric protein complex assembly. Chloroplast bioenergetics.


Emeritus Members

Click on a faculty member's name to view his or her full profile.

djdurzan@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
dggilchrist@ucdavis.edu Plant Pathology
ssgoyal@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
tchsiao@ucdavis.edu Land Air & Water Resources
djnevins@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
daphillips@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
cfquiros@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
Lab
msreid@ucdavis.edu Plant Science
ajstemler@ucdavis.edu Plant Biology
Biochemical and biophysical aspects of photosynthesis. Structural and functional properties of chloroplast thylakoid membranes. Mechanism of oxygen evolution, inhibition of electron flow by monovalent anions, and resistance to herbicides that target the thylakoid membrane.