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Washington State University Molecular Plant Sciences

Current MPS Students

Raed Al Saharin

Email: raed.alsaharin@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Hellmann
Department: SBS
Alexander Alleman

Email: alexander.alleman@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2017
Advisor: Peters
Department: IBC

Alex joined the MPS program in January of 2017 after transferring from Montana State University’s biochemistry program. He received his undergraduate degree from Western State Colorado University in biochemistry and cell biology. Alex is passionate about studying the physiological processes and regulations of biological nitrogen fixation in soil bacteria. By studying nitrogenase and other proteins involved in cellular nitrogen fixation, Alex and the Peters group hope to find clues into how this complicated cellular process works. These insights will lead to new developments in agricultural technologies to help lessen the effect of the world’s nitrogen crisis.

Publications:
Florence Mus, Alexander B. Alleman, Natasha Pence, Lance. Seefeldt, John W. Peters. Exploring the alternatives of biological nitrogen fixation. Metallomics. (March 18, 2018)
J_Bengtsson 2014Jesse Bengtsson

Email: jesse.bengtsson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Browse
Department: IBC

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech in 2014, where I double majored in Biochemistry and Chemistry. My previous research experiences have focused on PEG lipids for uses of a membrane bound nanoparticle for drug delivery, as well as unrelated work with a yeast two-hybrid system. My primary interest are in biochemistry and signaling. I am currently completing my rotations to explore my specific interests. A northwest native from Seattle originally, I enjoy running and exploring the cascades.
Nate Boyer

Email: nathaniel.boyer@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2017
Advisor:
Department:

I am a first year MPS student who came to WSU after graduating from the University of Missouri with degrees in Biology and Philosophy. My primary research interests are to understand manipulate plants’ ability to produce such an incredible variety compounds. I am currently rotating before picking a lab at the end of the year. My hobbies outside of science include hiking, biking, and generally enjoying the outdoors.
Scott Carle

Email: scott.carle@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Garland Campbell
Department: CSS

Freezing-tolerance is a vital trait for production of wheat in temperate regions. However, cold stress is a difficult trait for breeders to consistently select for. Scott’s research aims to further elucidate the regulation of a major genetic pathway that controls freezing-tolerance in wheat, and also to develop practical markers for the trait to assist wheat breeding programs.
April Chen

Email: xiaoyue.chen@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2010
Advisor: Gang
Department: IBC

April is the 6th year MPS student in Dr. David Gang's lab in IBC. Currently she is working on elucidating Salvinorin A biosynthesis pathway in Salvia divinorum. Her research mainly focuses on discovering and characterizing enzymes involved in GGPP cyclization and salvinorin compound modifications and in elucidating the means by which such enzymes have evolved in this very unique and interesting plant.

Publications:
Xiaoyue Chen, Anna Berim, Franck E. Dayan and David R. Gang. 2017. A (-)-kolavenyl diphosphate synthase catalyzes the first step of salvinorin A biosynthesis in Salvia Divinorum. J. Exp. Bot. 68(5):1109-1122. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw493.
Ryan Christian

Email: ryan_christian@wsu.edu
Enrolled: May 2013
Advisor: Dhingra
Department: HORT

I joined the MPS program in the fall of 2013 after graduating from the Honors College at Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology. My research in Dr. Amit Dhingra’s lab focuses on characterizing a set of putative plastid-targeted proteins that are predicted to be involved in energy transduction and nucleic acid binding and are unique to apple (Malus x domestica).
DeTar_RRachael DeTar

Email: rachael.detar@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Kirchhoff/Kunz
Department: IBC/SBS

Rachael graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a botany concentration from Colorado State University in 2014. She has a strong interest in the physiological and biological processes that drive and regulate photosynthesis and nutrient assimilation. Rachael looks forward to continuing her passion for research at WSU.


Vishnutej Ellur

Email: vishnutej.ellur@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Summer 2017
Advisor: W. Chen
Department: Pl Path

Vishnutej Ellur is a PhD student belonging to Raichur, Karnataka, India, who earned his B.Sc. (Agriculture) and M.Sc. (Agriculture) in Genetics and Plant Breeding degree from University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka, India in 2013 and 2015 respectively. He was awarded with UASR Gold Medal for having secured the Highest OGPA in M. Sc. (Agriculture) in Genetics and Plant Breeding during the year 2014-15. He performed his masters research work at Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad, Telangana, India, where he studied cross-compatibility and characterization of interspecific hybrid between cultivated and wild diploid sunflower. In November 2016, he was awarded with the prestigious Netaji Subhas ICAR International Fellowship (NS-ICAR-IF), which is provided by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi to pursue his PhD at WSU. He joined Molecular Plant Science program and Dr. Weidong Chen’s lab in Summer 2017. His research focuses on “Genetics and mechanisms of resistance in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L)”
Nathan Grant

Email: ngrant@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Kulvinder Gill
Department: CSS

I am a third year MPS student working in Dr. Kulvinder Gill's lab as a research assistant. My current research project is working with heat stressed wheat by measuring/studying photosynthesis. Currently, I am finishing a project that involves mapping an Rht gene. I graduated from WSU in 2012 with my degree in agricultural biotechnology. GO COUGS!
John Hadish

Email: john.hadish@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2017
Advisor:
Department:

John is a first year graduate student in the MPS program. He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa in the spring of 2016. His primary scientific interest is molecular genetics. John enjoys running, reading for fun, and cooking.
Seanna Hewitt

Email: seanna.hewitt@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
PI/lab: Amit Dhingra
Department: HORT

Research interests: Food security is a growing issue that necessitates improving the sustainability of agricultural and postharvest systems. The amount of produce that goes to waste, both in the U.S. and throughout the world, is particularly astonishing. My research involves a taking time-course RNAseq and physiology-based approaches to understanding the mechanisms of ripening in non-model systems, primarily pear (Pyrus communis) and other climacteric fruit. The end goal is to uncover ways of reducing waste associated with unpredictable ripening.
Interests/Hobbies: When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running, cycling, hiking, cliff jumping, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends, family and pets!
C_Jacques (2)Caitlin Jacques

Email: caitlin.jacques@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Adviser: Neff
Department: CSS

Caitlin graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and a B.A. in German Philosophy. Her research at UW focused on conferring drought tolerance in various crop plants by utilizing hormone signaling and genetic diversity. Her main species of focus was Phaseolus vulgaris. She would like to continue her research in crop plants, specifically relating to crop yield in challenging conditions, such as extreme temperature, moisture deficit, and climatic factors. Caitlin is particularly interested in signaling and developmental pathways, as well as herbicide and pesticide resistance.

Publications:
Favero DS, Jacques C, Iwase A, Le KN, Zhao J, Sugimoto K and Neff MM (2016) SUPPRESSOR OF PHYTOCHROME B4-#3 represses genes associated with auxin signaling to modulate hypocotyl growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiology 171: 2701-2716; doi: 10.1104/pp.16.00405
Skylar Johnson

Email: skylar.johnson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: May 2013
Advisor: Roje
Department: IBC

Skylar grew up in Gig Harbor, WA, and in spring 2013 she graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a B.S. in Biology. She’s currently working in the Roje lab on the affects of flavins on plant stress responses. Summer of 2015 she also participated in the NSF EAPSI program to do related research with a lab in Japan.
Kaan Koper

Email: kaan.koper@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Okita
Department: IBC

I am currently studying the structure-function relationship of higher plant ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPases). This enzyme catalyzes the rate limiting step of starch biosynthesis in plants and certain other mainly photosynthetic organism. In our study, we generate mutant AGPase enzymes with certain amino acid substitutions on known locations. Next we compare the enzyme kinetics, allosterism and assembly profile of the mutant enzyme with that of wild-type enzyme to assess the change in amino acid sequence to function and structure.

In the future, I am also going to work on TALEN technology which allows rapid, precise and efficient genome editing.

Publications:
Hwang, S.K., Koper, K., Satoh, H., & Okita, T.W. (2016). Rice endosperm starch phosphorylase (Pho1) assembles with disproportinating enzyme (Dpe1) to form a protein complex that enhances synthesis of malto-oligosaccharides. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 291(38), 19994-20007.

Seferoglu, A.B., Gul, S., Dikbas, U.M., Koper, K., Baris, Il., Caliskan, M., ...& Kavakli, I. (2016). Glu-370 in the Large Subunit Influences the Substrate Binding, Allosteric, and Heat Stability Properties of Potato ADP-glucose Pyrophosphorylase. bioRxiv, 054106.

Cakir, B., Tuncel, A., Green, A.R., Koper, K., Hwang, S.K., Okita, T.W., & Kang, C. (2015). Substrate bining properties of potato tuber ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase as determined by isothermal titration calorimity. FEBS letters, 589(13), 1444-1449.

Seferoglu, A.B., Koper, K., Can, F.B., Cevahir, G., & Kavakli, I.H. (2014). Enhanced heterotetrameric assembly of potato ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase using reverse genetics. Plant Cell Physiol, 55(8), 1473-1483. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcu078
Erika Kruse

Email: erika.kruse@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Carter
Department: CSS

Erika is interested in crop improvement through breeding. Her current project involves understanding resistance to mold and cold in winter wheat. She’s identifying QTL for snow mold resistance and looking at patterns of sugar accumulation and gene expression as related to resistance to mold and cold.
Beyond her studies, Erika loves spending time in the great outdoors; running, hiking, and backpacking. Music is also near and dear to her heart, and she gets her fix not only from listening to music, but through singing and playing guitar. Reading, cooking, zumba, and yoga are a few of her other hobbies.

Publications:
Kruse, E.B., et al. "Genomic Regions Associated with Tolerance to Freezing Stress and Snow Mold in Winter Wheat." G3 7.3 (2017): 775-780.
Yan Liu
Email: yan.liu4@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Knoblauch
Department: SBS

I am currently researching on a kind of phloem protein, forisome, in Dr. Knoblauch's lab. I love to work with green, leafy plants. I also like reading, cooking and hiking in my free time.

Publications:
Phragmoplast microtubule dynamics - a game of zones, Journal of Cell Science, 2017; Andrei Smertenko, Seanna Hewitt, Caitlin N. Jacques, Rafal Kacprzyk, Yan Liu, Matthew J. Marcec, Lindani Moyo, Aaron Ogdon, Hui Min Oung, Sharol Schmidt and Erika A. Serrano-Romero.

Non-Dispersive phloem-protein bodies (NPBs) of Populus trichocarpa consist of a SEOR protein and do not respond to cell wounding and Ca2+, Peer J, 2018; Daniel L. Mullendore, Timothy Ross-Elliott, Yan Liu, Hanjo H. Hellmann, Eric H. Roalson, Winifried S. Peters and Michael Knoblauch.
Maiporn Maipoka

Email: maiporn.maipoka@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Okita
Department: IBC

I obtained a B.S. in Biology from Prince of Songkla University and a M.S. in Botany from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. I joined MPS program and Professor Thomas Okita’s lab in Fall 2015. I am interested in plant responses to abiotic stress. I am currently studying role of an RNA-binding protein in stress tolerance in rice. I enjoy biking, trying new recipes of dessert and taking photo.
M_ Marcec (2)Matt Marcec

Email: matthew.marcec@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Tanaka
Department: Pl Path

Matthew is currently rotating through labs here at WSU. He received his masters degree from Northern Illinois University in plant sciences. He enjoys biking, hiking, martial arts, playing his bass guitar, and playing chess.

Publications:
Phragmoplast microtubule dynamics – a game of zones
Authors: Smertenko, Andrei; Hewitt, Seanna L.; Jacques, Caitlin N.; Kacprzyk, Rafal; Liu, Yan; Marcec, Matthew J.; Moyo, Lindani; Ogden, Aaron; Oung, Hui Min; Schmidt, Sharol; Serrano-Romero, Erika A. Source: JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE, 131 (2):SI JAN 2018

Extracellular alkalinization as a defense response in potato cells. Moroz N., Fritch K.R., Marcec, M.J., Tripathi, D., Smertenko, A., and Tanaka, K. (2017) Front. Plant Sci. 8:32. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00032
mcgowan_M2016Matthew McGowan

Email: matt.mcgowan@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Zhang
Department: CSS

Matthew graduated from Kansas State University with a M.S. in Biomedical Science in 2013 and continued working in Manhattan, KS on wheat doubled-haploid production and high-throughput genotyping for two years. He joined the MPS PhD program in Fall 2016 and is creating new computational tools in predictive genomics specifically for plant breeders.
Qingyan Meng

Email: qingyan.meng@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2017
Advisor: Norman G. Lewis
Department: IBC

I joined the MPS program in the spring of 2017. I graduated from the Southwest University for Nationalities, Chengdu, Sichuan, China with master’s degree in Organic Chemistry. My research in China mainly focuses on Chinese Traditional Medicine. But now in Dr. Lewis lab, I am working on metabolites analysis and putative enzymes and genes exploration.
Paul Mihalyov

Email: paul.mihalyov@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Pumphrey
Department: CSS

Paul Mihalyov is a third year MPS student in the Pumphrey lab. His primary focus is wheat breeding for resistance to stem and stripe rusts (Puccinia spp.) which are fungal pathogens with the potential to cause major yield losses for growers. Paul is interested in traditional aspects of plant breeding, but is also researching molecular plant-pathogen interactions in order to improve combat against wheat rusts. Before attending WSU, Paul received his B.S. in Genetics from New Mexico State University.

Publications:
Mihalyov, P.D., Nicholas, V.A., Bulli, P., Rouse, M.N., and Pumphrey M.O. Multi-locus mixed model analysis of stem rust resistance in winter wheat.(2017) The Plant Genome, 10(2).

Gao, Liangliang; Rouse, Matthew N.; Mihalyov, Paul D.; Bulli, Peter; Pumphrey, Michael O.; Anderson, James A. Genetic Characterization of Stem Rust Resistance in a Global Spring Wheat Germplasm Collection. CROP SCIENCE, 57 (5):2575-2589; SEP-OCT 2017
Nicholas Mueth

Email: nicholas.mueth@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Hulbert
Department: Pl Path

Nicholas "Cole" Mueth is a fourth-year MPS student from St. Louis, MO. After three lab rotations during his first year, Cole joined the Hulbert Lab in the Plant Pathology department. He studies plant-pathogen interactions between wheat and Puccinia, an important group of parasitic rust fungi. By understanding the genetic and biochemical factors that determine pathogen success/failure, Cole hopes to uncover novel plant resistance strategies. He enjoys hiking and biking around the beautiful Northwest landscape.

Publications:
Yin, C., Schlatter, D., Schroeder, K., Mueth, N.A., Prescott, A., Dhingra, A., Hulbert, S., Paulitz, T.C. Bacterial communities on wheat grown under long-term conventional tillage and no-till in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Phytobiomes 2017, 1:2

Rehder, L.E., Mueth, N.A. Biotechnology and other new production technologies. July 29, 2016. USDA Foreign Agriculture Services. Global Agriculture Information Network Report #GM16011.

Rehder, L.E., Mueth, N.A. Food processing ingredients in Germany. September 20, 2016. USDA Foreign Agriculture Services. Global Agriculture Information Network Report #GM16016.

Rehder, L.E., Mueth, N.A. German government on potential impacts of T-TIP on agriculture. June 7, 2016. Global Agriculture Information Network Report #GM16007.

Rehder, L.E., Mueth, N.A. Parlimentarians discuss future of plant breeding. June 7, 2016. Global Agriculture Information Network Report #GM16008.

Meuth, N.A. Biotech in Europe: An insider's view. Cornell Alliance for Science. September 14, 2016.

Mueth, N.A., Ramachandran, S.R., Hulbert, S.H. Small NRAs from the wheat stripe rust fungus (Puccinia striiformis f.sp. tritici). BMC Genomics 2015, 16:718.
Chun-Yeung Ng

Email: chun-yeung.ng@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 17
Advisor: Okita
Department: IBC
Aaron Ogden

Email: aaron.ogden@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Summer 2012
Advisor: Kahn
Department: IBC

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) is a critical component of global agriculture, economics, fossil fuel consumption, and nitrogen cycling. The primary location of SNF is within the root nodules formed between members of the bacterial family rhizobiaceae and leguminous plants. To accomplish effective SNF the plant-bacteria pair must coordinate and maintain a drastic metabolic shift from a free-living to a symbiotic state. The progress of this shift can be visualized along the longitudinal axis of indeterminate nodules which at maturity contain metabolically distinct zones. Using both a proteomic and metabolomic approach, my research seeks to evaluate the hypothesis that these zones differentially express particular proteins and metabolites involved in SNF and nodule maturation. Furthermore, bacterial mutant constructs will be generated to explore the role of particular peptides and pathways found unique within each sub-nodule zone. This research will improve our understanding of the metabolism involved in the onset and regulation of SNF engendering its optimization for the more sustainable global agricultural of tomorrow.
Alice Olson

Email: alexander.olson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Rotating - NIH Biotech
Department:
J_Ortiz 2015Jessica Ortiz

Email: jessica.ortiz@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Neff
Department: CCS

I am a second-year graduate student interested in studying biochemical pathways in order to develop genetically improved crops. I earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside. My undergraduate research involved the development of a morphological and molecular key for the classification of several species of Orasema (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae) so they can be more accurately identified for potential use in biological control efforts against fire ants. I also earned a M.S. in Biochemistry from the California State University, Los Angeles where I worked on identifying T-DNA insertion sites in A. thaliana transgenic lines via TAIL-PCR and performed targeted mutagenesis in A. thaliana and O. sativa using CRISPR-Cas system.
Oung_OliviaHuimin Olivia Oung

Email: huimin.oung@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Kirchhoff
Department: IBC

Olivia graduated from National Taiwan University with a MS in Agriculture Chemistry. After she graduated she work in Academia Sinica in Taiwan for two years. She enjoys running and trying new sports activities.
Alyssa Parish

Email: alyssa.parish@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2017
Advisor: Smertenko
Department: IBC

Publications:
Zwack, P.J., De Clercq, I., Howton, T.C., Hallmark, H.T., Hurny, A., Keshishian, E.A., Parish, A.M., Benkova, E., Mukhtar, M.S., Van Breusegem, F., Rashotte, A.M. (2016) Cytokinin Reponse Factor 6 Represses Cytokinin-Associated Genes during Oxidative Stress. Plant Physiology. Doi:10.1104/pp.16.00415.
S_Saeheng 2015Sompop Saeheng
Email: sompop.saeheng@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2015
Advisor: Roje
Department: IBC

I graduated BSc. Biology from Prince of Songkla University, Thailand (2012) and got MSc. Plant Genetic Manipulation from University of Nottingham, UK (2014). Generally, my background is plant taxonomy, palynology, and cancer epigenetics. Then, I moved to US and started working in Roje’s Lab. My current research is about folate metabolic enzymes in the photorespiration pathway. I like to live in a small and peaceful town, so I think Pullman quite suits me.
S_SchmidtSharol Schmidt
Email: sharol.schmidt@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Smertenko
Department: IBC

I chose WSU for graduate school because of the excellent plant science program and the close proximity to my hometown. I love the options for outdoor recreation here and I can still tend my booming vegetable garden in the tropical paradise of Lewiston, just 30 miles away. I work in Dr. Andrei Smertenko’s lab which looks at plant cell cytoskeleton. We have found a family of Arabidopsis proteins that interact with microtubules in vivo. I hope to uncover the role of these proteins during cell cycle stages through confocal imaging of transiently expressed proteins.
Erika Serrano

Email: erika.serranoromero@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Cousins
Department: SBS

I am researching Miscanthus Photosynthesis using Gas exchange measurements. In the future I will be working with another C4 biofuels crops such as corn and sugarcane.
Rachel Snyder

Email: rachel.snyder@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Tegeder
Department: SBS
Vaclav Svoboda

Email: vaclav.svoboda@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2017
Advisor: Kirchhoff
Department: SBS
Joel Velasco

Email: joel.velasco@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2017
Advisor: Rotating
Department:
Brittney Wager

Email: brittney.wager@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Knoblauch
Department: SBS

Brittney is working in Dr. Michael Knoblauch's lab where she is researching the phytoremediation of radioactive strontium. Using plants to clean up contaminated soil and water is more environmentally friendly and cost effective than traditional physical and chemical methods. Her approach to this project includes the use of microscopy and molecular techniques.
Weed, R-3Rebecca Weed

Email: rebecca.holcomb@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Gang
Department: IBC

Hi! My name is Rebecca Weed. I am a fourth year graduate student in the MPS program where I work for Dr. David Gang in the Institute of Biological Chemistry. I research an invasive variety of a marshland grass, Phragmites australis, or Common Reed. I have traveled around the country, specifically the Northwest, Great Lakes, and New England regions every summer to document and collect specimens from native and invasive populations of this plant. Back in the lab I use a variety of techniques such as metabolite profiling and bio-assay guided fractionation to identify any potential allelopathic chemicals being produced by the invasive variety that aid it to out compete native varieties and other native grasses. When I am not working in the field or the lab, I enjoy traveling to different parts of the Northwest to hike, ski, fish, or catch a rock show or hockey game in Spokane with my husband.
B_williamson-benavides.16Bruce Williamson Benavides

Email: b.williamsonbenavid@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Dhingra
Department: HORT

I was born in Costa Rica, where I earned my BS in Biology from the University of Costa Rica. I joined the Molecular Plant Sciences program at WSU in the fall of 2016. I am working in Dr. Amit Dhingra's lab where I study the molecular interaction between peas and root rot disease. My research focuses on the development of molecular markers and new varieties via targeted and non-targeted mutagenesis. I enjoy playing sports, especially soccer and surfing, dancing and listening to ska music, scuba diving and spending time with friends!
Jordan Zager

Email: jordan.zager@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Lange
Department: IBC

Research Interest: Glandular trichomes, found on leaf surfaces of many plant species, act as microscopic chemical factories producing a wide range of specialized compounds known as secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites provide the plant with inborn pest resistance, act to attract pollinators, and have great economic value serving as flavoring agents, fuel derivatives, and medications— both traditional and western. Among the secondary metabolites synthesized in glandular trichomes of cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) are acyl sugars, flavonoids, mono- and sesquiterpenes. Flavonoids are known to be involved in a myriad of plant processes, including, among others, floral pigmentation, UV screening, polar auxin transport and defense reactions. It was recently demonstrated that the tomato anthocyanin free (af) mutant, which is impaired in the expression of the flavonoid biosynthetic gene chalcone isomerase (CHI), failed to accumulate both flavonoids and terpenoids, and also had a significantly reduced number of glandular trichomes. Using isolated glandular trichomes from cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and the af mutant, we have begun to unveil the coordinated mechanisms underlying the biosynthesis of these distinct compound classes. We have characterized flavonoid pathway intermediates accumulating in the af mutant and are now testing if these can regulate terpenoid enzyme activities in plastids. We are also integrating transcriptome, metabolome and enzyme kinetics data in both genome-scale stoichiometric and kinetic based mathematical models to more precisely predict flux distribution among metabolic pathways in glandular trichomes. These computational models will greatly assist in the development of generating novel and precise hypotheses regarding the coordination between secondary metabolism and development of glandular trichomes. These efforts are beginning to shed light into the poorly understood coordination of metabolism in specialized cell types.

Hobby: Outdoor enthusiast