We are interested in understanding how plants establish patterning information during embryogenesis. Our research has focused on understanding the function of the Arabidopsis BOBBER1 (BOB1) gene. bob1 null mutants abort as embryos and have enlarged meristematic domains. We have isolated partial loss of function alleles which are viable and display a wide range of developmental phenotypes. A subset of these are reminiscent of the developmental defects observed in auxin transport mutants, suggesting that BOB1 may be involved in this important patterning pathway.
BOB1 encodes a non-canonical small heat shock protein which is required for plant thermotolerance. BOB1 protein has chaperone activity in vitro and we have used a BOB1:GFP fusion to demonstrate that BOB1 localizes to heat shock granules at elevated temperatures. BOB1 is unique among plant small heat shock protein because it is the only one with a demonstrated function in plant developmental patterning. In order to understand how a small heat shock protein affects patterning we are currently identifying and characterizing BOB1 interactors using molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches.
Please see our recent publications for more information about this research.
The lab is well equipped to investigate plant development using molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry. Facilities in the lab and the department include a Leica SP5 confocal microscope, a fluorescence dissecting microscope, a four channel real time PCR machine, a newly upgraded greenhouse, plant growth chambers, and a full array of molecular biology equipment. Most of the research in the lab is conducted by Swarthmore undergraduates, and we are always looking for motivated new lab members.