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Department: Liberal Arts & Sciences Administration
Research Interests: plant metabolism, biofuel production, genome editing technologies
Brief description of current research:
My research interests include photosynthetic carbon metabolism and metabolic regulation of gene expression in plants and photosynthetic microbes. A particular focus of my research has been understanding the acclimation response of microalgae to changes in CO2 availability, using Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model system. Understanding this acclimation response, includes both understanding how C. reinhardtii recognizes and transduces changes in CO2 availability, as well as the functional aspects of the acclimation response, especially the CO2-concentrating mechanism (CCM) induced by limiting CO2. The C. reinhardtii genome sequence has catalyzed substantial progress in identifying and investigating functional components of the CCM. In addition to continuing work on the LCIB protein family, my lab also has demonstrated the involvement of Ci transporters, including HLA3/MRP1 and LCIA/Nir1.2, in the Chlamydomonas CCM. We also are continuing to work on these and other candidate Ci transporters to understand their roles in the microalgal CCM.
My research also has capitalized on our expertise in algal photosynthetic carbon metabolism and on the Chlamydomonas CCM to increase carbon assimilation and its contribution to growth and biomass yield under conditions of interest for industrial production of bioproducts and biofuels from algae. We have developed proprietary high-biomass strains of Chlamydomonas and modified these unique strains to divert excess carbon assimilation into lipid.
Another recent research focus for us has been the development and implementation of innovative genome editing technologies based on the exciting and novel TALE nuclease (TALEN) technology.
Wang, Y., and M. H. Spalding, 2013: LCIB in the Chlamydomonas CO2 concentrating mechanism. Photosynthesis Res., in press.
Xie, B, S. Bishop, D. Stessman, D. A. Wright, M. H. Spalding, and L. J. Halverson, 2013: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii thermal tolerance enhancement mediated by a mutualistic interaction with vitamin B12-producing bacteria. The ISME Journal, 7, 1544–1555.
Li, T., B. Liu, M. H. Spalding, D. Weeks, B. Yang, 2012: High efficiency TALEN-based gene editing for producing disease resistance in crop plants. Nature Biotechnology, 30, 390-392.