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UC Riverside plant cell biologist receives top scientific honor
Date:4/27/2010

g features of plants is that they are sessile and thus have to endure environmental challenges. Zhu, a professor of plant cell biology, focuses on researching the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying plant responses to adverse environments such as salinity, drought and low temperature. His work has led to the identification of genes for modifying the responses of crops to environmental stresses, which will ultimately lead to major contributions to agriculture and the environment.

Zhu and his colleagues have used the model plant Arabidopsis to create mutants that are "salt overly sensitive" (SOS). By cloning and characterizing the SOS genes, they have been able to describe a signaling pathway that mediates the response of Arabidopsis to high salinity. Zhu has also played a leading role in the genetic analysis of how plants respond to low temperature (cold) stress and has already discovered several novel regulators of cold-responsive genes important in chilling and freezing tolerance. Recently, the Zhu lab has focused on the mechanisms of transcriptional gene silencing and the role of epigenetic gene regulation in stress adaptation.

The Zhu lab uses a combination of genetic, biochemical, genomic and proteomic approaches to analyze various levels of gene regulation (chromatin level/epigenetic, transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and protein activity) and to understand stress signaling and stress tolerance.

"Professor Jian-Kang Zhu is the preeminent leader in the molecular genetics of plant stress," said Natasha Raikhel, the director of the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology of which Zhu is a member. "He understands the importance of fundamental research and its far-reaching impact on agriculture and the environment. Few of us see our discoveries quickly translated into teaching material, and yet many aspects of Jian-Kang's studies are already featured in textbooks. We are m
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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