Professor, Botany and Plant Pathology
KEYWORDS: Plant cell biology; Myosin motors; Plant biotechnology; Plant virology; Virus evolution
My current research program has three major directions. An industry-funded project deals with the development of a gene expression and RNAi vector based on a grapevine closterovirus. This vector provides extremely powerful tools for the functional genomics and pathogen control in grapevine. However, the main focus of my group is now on plant myosin motors. We discovered novel myosin functions in transport of organelles, vesicles, and viruses, as well as in cell growth and plant development. The main goal of this NIH-supported project is to understand the molecular mechanisms whereby myosins bind their cargoes and contribute to cell expansion. I am also engaged in a long-term collaborative project with Eugene Koonin (NIH) in the broad area of virus origins and evolution. Using comparative genomics and phylogenomics, we formulated the concept of the ancient Virus World and now explore the interplay between viruses and cells throughout the life’s history.