The two projects at WSU were among 54 grants awarded for plant research, totaling more than $17 million, announced May 25 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.
The Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC) was established at Washington State University in 1980 to pursue fundamental research in the molecular biology and biochemistry of plants. Work at the IBC focuses on basic plant science with an emphasis on plant derived products synthesis, determinants of plant architecture, bioenergetics, and plant-microbe interacts. The research outcomes have potential applications in agricultural biotechnology, bioenergy, and medicine.
For more information about specific research programs in the IBC, please call us at (509) 335-8382, fax to (509) 335-7643 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBC News and Updates
Dr. Andrei Smertenko was awarded a NSF-CAREER grant to study cellular advances that enabled colonization of land by plants. The transition of plants from a marine to a terrestrial environment would be impossible without vascular tissues. Plant vascular cells are produced through divisions that span the longest cell axis and can reach 1 mm in length. These super-long divisions are possible because a plant-specific division machine, the ‘phragmoplast’, has the ability to expand directionally. Dr. Smertenko will use a combination of experimental and modeling techniques to understand phragmoplast expansion. A deeper understanding of cell division mechanisms would facilitate the breeding of trees with faster growth and higher production of wood.
Professor John Peters delivered an invited lecture in the opening plenary session at Plant Biology 2017, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, June 2017, at the Hawaii Convention Center. Professor Peters talk was entitled, “Innovative Solutions for Increasing the Impact of Biological Nitrogen Fixation on Crop Plants”. The annual plant biology meeting is hosted by the American Society for Plant Biologist (ASPB) and has been held for over eight decades and currently attracts more than 1,300 scientists from 40 countries.
The Kirchhoff lab published a paper recently entitled Sublocalization of cytochrome b6f complexes in photosynthetic membranes in Trends in Plant Sciences that presents a structural model that explains the variation in cytochrome b6f sublocalization data. They have been able to show that small changes in the distance between adjacent membranes in stacked grana regions either allow or restrict access of cytochrome b6f complexes to grana. If the width of the gap falls below a certain threshold, then the steric hindrance prevents cytochrome b6f access to grana. Evidence is presented that the width of stromal gap is variable, demonstrating that the postulated mechanism can regulate the lateral distribution of the cytochrome b6f complexes.
Professor Mark Lange assumes the presidency of the Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA) in August 2017. PSNA is a nonprofit scientific organization whose membership is open to anyone with an interest in phytochemistry and the role of plant substances in related fields. The PSNA’s mission is to encourage and stimulate research on the chemistry and biochemistry of plant constituents, their effects upon plant and animal physiology and pathology, and their industrial importance and utilization.
Eleven CAHNRS staff and faculty members, undergraduates and graduate students were presented with the Leadership and Engagement Award of Distinction (LEAD) from the President of Washington State University, April 18 at Pullman’s Compton Union Building.
Presented jointly by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement and the Office of Student Involvement, the President’s Award for Leadership and Engagement honors people who show exceptional service, involvement, mentoring, leadership and social change in the university and their community.
Two from CAHNRS received Faculty and Staff awards: Marwa Sanad, research associate in the Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC), and Debbie Christel, assistant professor in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles (AMDT).
“Mathematicians like translating biological processes into numbers,” said Andrei Smertenko, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry. “I’m a biologist, and I want to help grow stronger, better trees.”
Peters is the new director of the Institute of Biological Chemistry (IBC) at Washington State University and a renowned biochemist who wants to know how energy is produced at a fundamental level.
Huánglóngbìng, or HLB, is also called “citrus greening disease,” and it is destroying orange, grapefruit and lemon trees around the world. Scientists haven’t been able to grow and maintain cultures of the bacterium that causes the disease.
“The simple answers didn’t work and we need a way to fight this,” said biochemist David Gang, a fellow in WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry.