Indian River Lagoon
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) have devastated this once pristine ecosystem. I use molecular biology and bioinformatics to explore the IRL metagenome and how changes in its microbiome and virome lead to toxic HAB events.
The IRL is in its third year of an Unusual Mortality Event for native Manatee. Florida manatees are starving to death due to the lack of their usual food source- seagrass. Persistent HABs decimated the IRL's seagrass beds and scientists have had little luck restoring them.
Leiodermatium deep-sea sponge
Leiodermatolide is a potent anti-cancer drug produced by the deep-sea sponge Leiodermatium. To secure a steady supply of this drug, I use molecular biology and bioinformatics to mine the sponge holobiont metagenome for the biosynthetic gene cluster that produces leiodermatolide.
A better understanding of tip growth regulation in pollen tubes gives insight into the cell invasivity mechanism of other polarized cell growth (e.g., metastatic cancer, invadopodia, neurites). I investigated the regulation of reactive oxygen species in growing pollen tubes of Nicotiana tobacum. Specifically, I used three different protein-to-protein techniques (yeast two-hybrid, GST-pulldown, FRET) to support the interaction of plasma membrane NADPH oxidase and two small GTPases (biological switches).
UpSET - a new therapeutic target in Mixed Lineage Leukemia
The MLL5 gene in humans is commonly deleted in a subset of leukemias associated with poor prognosis. The homologous gene in Drosophila melanogaster is upSET, whose protein’s SET domain resembles MLL5. In this project, I used yeast two-hybrid, GST-pulldown, and in vitro transcription/translation to investigate protein interactions between UpSET and unknown transcription factors, providing information about the structure of this protein complex.