Alumni | Wildermuth Lab
Originally from Boston, I was surrounded by plants from an early age in my mother’s garden. This collection was not of exotics, but of herbs for medicinal uses, which opened my eyes to the compounds that plants produce for defense, pollinator attraction, energy storage, among other uses. A network of interactions was opened up to me and I felt the best way to get a sense of biological connections was with a background in environmental sciences, which I studied at McGill University for a bachelor’s degree. While I enjoyed learning the foundations of ecology and how to assess system stability, I found the resolution of landscape management too coarse - I needed a better understanding of what processes were happening within individual components (the organisms, rivers, atmosphere, soil) to contribute to understanding how their responses to stimuli shape system dynamics and affect the interactions I had learned about. I chose plants because of my close connection to them, and seeing their compounds everywhere in my life - paper for my articles, herbs in my tea, dyes in my clothes, spices in my food, flavors in my beer! So I started a master’s at the University of Zurich in the Grossniklaus lab looking at nuclear organization within the developing seed of Arabidopsis, and the link between transcriptional state and nuclear localization. Finishing up in Zurich, I joined the Gehring lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (their first plant lab!) as a technician working on the movement of small RNAs in the developing female gametophyte and building a transcriptome of a sought-after water lily without a reference genome.
I started my PhD in plant biology at Berkeley in 2014, joining the plant pathology lab of Mary Wildermuth to work on the effects of powdery mildew on Arabidopsis. My main project looks into the consequences of endoreduplication that is induced in the mesophyll cells directly beneath a powdery mildew (a fungal pathogen) infection site on Arabidopsis thaliana leaves. During endoreduplication the cell replicates its genome without undergoing cytokinesis. Previous work in the Wildermuth Lab has shown that increase in ploidy, or genome copy number, is beneficial to the fungus, while mutant plants that do not undergo endoreduplication after infection reduce fungal fitness. We are investigating whether it affects host metabolism to produce nutrients the fungus cannot produce on its own.
Raissig, M. T., Gagliardini, V., Jaenisch, J., Grossniklaus, U., Baroux, C. Efficient and Rapid Isolation of Early-stage Embryos from Arabidopsis thaliana Seeds. Journal of Visualized Experiments (76), e50371, doi:10.3791/50371 (2013). (http://www.jove.com/video/50371/efficient-rapid-isolation-early-stage-em...)
Arnon Graduate Fellowship Recipient - 2015