Recognizing featured Plant Cell first authors, March 2016

Recently, we’ve been profiling first authors of Plant Cell papers that are selected for In Brief summaries. Here are the first-author profiles from the March issue of The Plant Cell.

Christine Andeme Ondzighi-Assoume, featured first author of Environmental nitrate stimulates root tip abscisic acid accumulation via release from inactive stores 00946Assoume

Current Position: Research Scientist, Plant Genetics and Molecular Biology Lab, Plant Sciences Department, The University of Tennessee.

Education: BS in Biochemistry, MS in Molecular and Cell Biochemistry, DEA (Diploma of Advanced Studies) in Cell Biology, PhD in Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Department UMR-INRA, University of Rouen-France.

Non-scientific Interests: Reading novels, cooking, swimming, watching movies, and being a mother.

I am the youngest of six children of a French immigrant family originally from Gabon, central Africa. I was born in Paris, a beautiful city known for its art and notable architectural landmarks, and pursued my education in Normandie until I obtained my Doctoral degree in Cell Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Rouen, France. During my graduate program, I learned to use microscopy as a powerful tool to answer to fundamental questions in biological science, so I fell in love with using microscopic instruments. Knowing my strong interest in microscopy, I sought out a Post-doctoral position at the Department of Molecular and Cell Developmental Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder where I had the great opportunity to work with Dr. L. Andrew Staehelin on the role of Protein Disulfide Isomerases (PDIs) using state-of-the-art microscopy and tomography (Ondzighi A. et al., 2008, Plant Cell). After Andrew closed the lab, I left Boulder to work as a Research Associate in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. My work there entailed investigating cell wall biosynthesis. After that, I joined the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Vermont as a Research Associate to work with Dr. Jeanne H. Harris on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern plant root system growth and development in Arabidopsis and Medicago. The work with Dr. Harris gave me a wonderful opportunity to develop and optimize an immunocytochemistry technique as a powerful tool to directly visualize hormones in-situ within plant tissues. Using this technique, I demonstrated a new mechanism by which environmental nitrate stimulates ABA production by regulating the release of ABA from the storage form, ABA-GE, in Arabidopsis roots (Ondzighi-Assoume et al., 2016, Plant Cell). The identification of this mechanism represents a significant change in how we think about nitrate signaling within plants. I am currently a Research Scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at The University of Tennessee working on improving plant biomass for agriculture and bioenergy production.

Alexander Calderwood, featured first author of Breakthrough Report: Transcript abundance explains mRNA mobility data in Arabidopsis thaliana00956Calderwood

Current Position: PhD student in the department of Computational and Systems Biology at the John Innes Centre.

Education: B.A. (2011) in Plant Sciences from Cambridge University, UK.

Non-scientific Interests: Varied and short lived; my current interests are rock climbing, the recorder, and video and board games.

Growing up I have always enjoyed science fiction and the idea of science as a tool to improve peoples lives. As an undergraduate I encountered the ubiquitous ‘feed the world’ dilemma attractive to many plant scientists, and from there was set, intent on saving the world, although things have not yet turned out that way. I very much enjoy the creative aspects of modeling and analysis, and was fortunate enough to find a project combining plant sciences (supervisor Stan Kopriva) with a fairly theoretical approach (co-supervisor Richard Morris). During my PhD, I have predominantly worked on aspects of metabolism. Whilst considering the spatial regulation of glucosinolate production close to the vasculature, my supervisor suggested that the work of Thieme et al. was well worth reading. In studying their dataset, one thing led to another, unexpectedly leading to some insights into regulation of mobile mRNA, as an extremely serendipitous outcome. It seems to highlight to me the importance of remembering that the plant is a highly connected system, and to be happy to spend time exploring interesting questions as they arise.

Antonio Emidio Fortunato, featured author of Breakthrough Report: Diatom phytochromes reveal the existence of far-red light based sensing in the ocean 00928Fortunato

Current Position: Post-doctoral scientist, Diatom Functional Genomics team, Computational and Quantitative Biology Laboratory, UMR7238, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.

Education: PhD (2010) in Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Palermo (Palermo) and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Napoli), Italy.

Non-scientific Interests: Sport (karate, basketball, swimming), board games, cooking, photography.

When I started my PhD as a developmental biologist working on zebrafish embryos at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Napoli (Italy), I would have never imagined moving my research interests to diatom photobiology! However, since I met diatoms, I have become fascinated by their peculiar evolutionary history and the many still unexplored aspects of their physiology. For this reason, after completing my PhD, I joined the research team of Dr. Angela Falciatore in Paris and accepted the challenge of unraveling the molecular mechanisms by which diatoms respond to light. Indeed, these microalgae are so versatile in adapting their physiology to very different and variable light conditions, that they dominate the contemporary oceans, contributing to 20% of global primary production. In this context, I explored the function of a putative red/far-red light photoreceptor, the Phaeodactylum tricornutum phytochrome. Thanks to the combined efforts of several Falciatore’s team members and the precious contribution of our collaborators, we unveiled far-red light mediated responses in diatoms that we could link to diatom phytochrome activity. The discovery of red/far-red light photoreceptors in diatoms contributes to the understanding of diatom light sensing capacities and opens new perspectives on the functional and ecological role of phytochromes in the marine environment.



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