IIGB Shines at the 2019 ASPB Conference!

IIGB/CEPCEB saw unprecedented participation at the ASPB’s Plant Biology 2019 Conference in San Jose, California! CEPCEB’s own Wenbo Ma was a major symposia organizer of this year’s conference and delivered two talks, “Plant Disease and Resistance Mechanisms Major Symposium Overview by Organizer” and “Trans-kingdom RNAi executed by Secondary Small RNAs confers disease resistance”

Other faculty presenting talks included Sean Cutler (Plenary Talk: “New Tools for Dynamically Maximizing Crop Productivity”), Linda Walling (“Nymph mortality: Whitefly resistance in the non-model plants cassava and alfalfa”), and Dawn Nagel (“Time of day regulation of heat stress related growth responses”). Additionally, Meng Chen’s Assistant Project Scientist Chan Yul Yoo presented a Lightning Talk (“A nucleus-to-plastid light signaling mechanism for initiating chloroplast biogenesis”) as did Carolyn Rasmussen’s graduate student Alison Mills (“Division Plane Orientation Defects Revealed by a Synthetic Double Mutant Phenotype”).

Aside from talks, 23 faculty, junior researchers, and students presented posters. These included:

Sonja Winte (Bailey-Serres Lab): “Group VII ERF orchestration of the hypoxia-responsive network in Arabidopsis thaliana, rice, & maize“

Chan Yul Yoo (M. Chen Lab): “A nucleus-to-plastid light signaling mechanism for initiating chloroplast biogenesis“

Honghong Wu (Giraldo Lab): “Improving Arabidopsis salinity tolerance through cerium oxide nanoparticle scavenging of ROS and enhancing leaf mesophyll potassium retention“

Patrick Thomas (Walling Lab): “Elucidating a Nymph-Based Whitefly Resistance Mechanism in Alfalfa“  

Jacob MacWilliams (Kaloshian Lab): “A cowpea aphid salivary enzyme with dual roles in altering host immunity and physiology“  

Adam Steinbrenner (Close Lab): “Discovery of an immune receptor for a Herbivore-Associated Molecular Pattern (HAMP) to combat chewing“

Yingnan Hou (W. Ma Lab): “Plant secondary siRNAs contribute to host-induced gene silencing in oomycete pathogens“  

Cristal Zuniga Pena (Borneman Lab): “Unraveling metabolic interactions among ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ and Citrus sinensis“  

Alison Mills (Rasmussen Lab): “Division Plane Orientation Defects Revealed by a Synthetic Double Mutant Phenotype“

Marschal Bellinger (Rasmussen Lab): “Kinectin is essential for cell expansion in Zea mays“

Carolyn Rasmussen, Assistant Professor: “Analyzing the role of cell shape in division plane orientation“  

Jin-Zheng Wang (Dehesh Lab): “How plastidial retrograde signaling metabolite regulates adaptive responses? “

Jaime Van Norman, Assistant Professor: “PLK1, a transmembrane receptor kinase, links lateral cell polarity with radial tissue patterning during root development“

Jessica Toth (Van Norman Lab):  “PLK3: A receptor-like kinase with lateral polar localization in root epidermal cells“

Brandon Le (X. Chen Lab) : “Dissecting the Roles of Plant-Specific RNA Polymerases IV and V in Soybean“

Emily Blair (Nagel Lab): “Contribution of time of day and the circadian clock to the heat stress responsive transcriptome in Arabidopsis“  

Alex Rajewski (Litt Lab): “Identification of Conserved Regulatory Modules in Dry and Fleshy Fruit Development“  

Ye Xu (X. Chen Lab) :  “Investigating the dynamic localization of Arabidopsis AGO1 between the nucleus, cytoplasm and the ER“

Tejasvinee Atul Mody (Nagel Lab): “Regulation of circadian clock genes by Heat Shock Transcription Factors in Arabidopsis“

Sassoum Lo (Close Lab): “Genetic analysis of pod shattering in cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp] “ 

Sun Hyun Chang (Nelson Lab): “Evolution of specific receptor-target interactions in karrikin and strigolactone signaling pathways“

Stephanie Martinez (Nelson Lab): “The molecular basis for enhanced responses to karrikins, a class of germination stimulants in smoke“  

Damaris Godinez-Vidal (Kaloshian Lab): “A Novel Approach to Develop Broad-Spectrum Resistance to Plant Parasitic Nematodes“

Several IIGB/CEPCEB researchers also qualified as ASPB Travel Grant Awardees. Jin-Zheng Wang (Dehesh Lab), Sassoum Lo (Close Lab), Irma Ortiz (Walling Lab), Alex Rajewski (Litt Lab), and Sonja Winte (Bailey-Serres Lab) all won $575 to attend the conference.


CIDVR Director Karine Le Roch receives new $3.2M NIH grant

A team of researchers led by CIDVR Director Karine Le Roch has found that various stages of the development of human malaria parasites, including stages involved in malaria transmission, are linked to epigenetic features and how chromatin — the complex of DNA and proteins within the nucleus — is organized and structured in these parasites. Full story here.

Dr. Le Roch also concurrently published study results in Nature Communications.

Apply for Metabolomics Seed Grants Now!

A special thanks to all our esteemed members who came out to celebrate the March Grand Opening of the Metabolomics Core! We were thrilled to see such an outpouring of support and excitement for IIGB’s newest Core Facility.

Because we want to keep the Metabolomics celebration going, IIGB is pleased to announce a Call for Seed Grant Proposals! All IIGB PIs are eligible to apply for the chance to win one of eight (8) $3,000 seed grants.

Eligibility is not limited to specific organisms or sample matrices.

Full submission rules may be found here:

Metabolomics Core – Call for Proposals

Deadline to apply is June 3, 2018.

IIGB Plant Biologists Dominate at the Western ASPB Conference

The University of California, Riverside Department of Botany & Plant Sciences swept multiple Graduate and Undergraduate Award categories at the most recent American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Western Section Conference on Saturday, February 3, 2018.

Pablo Martinez (Carolyn Rasmussen lab) was awarded Best Graduate Student Talk for his work using a single-molecule approach to determine how the microtubule-binding protein TANGLED influences the dynamics of cell division.

Rounding out the Best Graduate Student Talk category, Danielle Garceau (Linda Walling lab) received an Honorary Mention for her research using RNA sequencing to elucidate the cassava’s defense-signaling to identify its whitefly-resistance genes.

Irma Ortiz, also in the Walling lab, brought home the Best Graduate Student Poster Award for her use of proteomics-based technologies to characterize the function of LAP-A to control wounding signaling in tomato.

Not only did UCR sweep the Graduate Student Award categories, it also carried the Best Undergraduate Poster Award. Jocelyne Aranda (Rasmussen lab) was recognized for her use of mathematical cell-shape modeling to determine whether a mutant with defects in division plane orientation initiates divisions in predicted locations.

In a tie, Claudia Sepulveda, of the David Nelson lab, was also honored with the Best Poster Award for her research using gene editing technology to characterize the function of KUF1, a gene upregulated by the smoke-derived germination stimulants karrikins.

Founded in 1924, the ASPB is a professional society devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences. It publishes two highly-cited journals and organizes conferences and other activities that are key to the promotion and growth of plant science, including molecular and cellular biology.

Drs. Nelson, Rasmussen, and Walling are all members of UCR’s Center for Plant Cell Biology (CEPCEB), in the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, which addresses significant questions in plant biology on a molecular level to meet global challenges such as improved nutrition, increased crop yield, resistance to pests, and sustainable biofuels.

Distinguished Professor Named Interim Editor-in-Chief of PNAS

Natasha V. Raikhel, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Plant Cell Biology and former director of the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology (IIGB), has been named interim editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Established in 1914, PNAS is one of the world’s most-cited multidisciplinary scientific journals, spanning content in the biological, physical, and social sciences, with nearly half of all accepted papers coming from authors outside the United States. With PNAS’ selection, Raikhel joins a distinguished line of former editors, including Nobel Prize winners Linus Pauling and Randy Schekman and is only the second woman to serve in this capacity in the journal’s over 100 year history (she is preceded in service by Maxine Singer).

During her time as IIGB director, Raikhel led the initiative to form the Center for Plant Cell Biology (CEPCEB) with the goal of developing a modern biotechnology hub within IIGB which would include bioinformatics, proteomics, chemical genomics, and advanced microscopy core facilities. These UCR core facilities remain the cornerstone of IIGB’s multidisciplinary research focus and are available to scientists both on- and off-campus.

Raikhel’s research is centered on the study of endosomal and vesicular trafficking to the vacuoles, using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Her study led to a better understanding of the basic biology of endomembrane trafficking, and on the strength of her research findings, Raikhel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.

Still an active member of the UCR, IIGB, and CEPCEB research communities, Raikhel’s legacy was most recently recognized through IIGB’s establishment of the Natasha V. Raikhel Award in Research Innovation and Science Leadership, with the inaugural award just bestowed in December 2017 to Thomas Girke, professor of bioinformatics and director of UCR’s High Performance Computing Center.

The election of Raikhel as interim editor-in-chief of a multidisciplinary journal covering a majority of topics beyond her scientific expertise of plant biology is a great testament to Raikhel’s academic standing. In addition, this honor serves as further acknowledgment of the caliber of the greater UCR and IIGB research communities, whose scientific influence has secured such profound recognition.