Omar Arias-Gaguancela: Plant Direct First Author

Omar Arias-Gaguancela, first author of “Enhanced seedling growth by 3-n-pentadecylphenolethanolamide is mediated by fatty acid amide hydrolases in upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)”

Current Position:  PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, BioDiscovery Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas

Education:  MSc in Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA. BSc in Biotechnology Engineering, University of the Armed Forces – ESPE, Pichincha, Ecuador

Non-scientific Interests: Photography, weight training, and watching documentaries

Brief bio:  My first experience doing research started as an undergraduate. Prior getting my BSc degree from the University of the Armed Forces – ESPE, I had the opportunity to do a couple of internships in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University (OSU), where I collaborated in population studies to understand the genetic distribution of Fusarium proliferatum species that infect onion. Then, during my master studies in OSU (2015-2017), I was involved in a project that sought to characterize the roles of genes associated with the unfolded protein response (a form of stress in the ER) during plant virus infection. Afterwards, I started working as a research technician for Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Dallas where I continued working on plant-virus research. In the fall of 2018, I started my PhD studies in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas (UNT) under the supervision of Dr. Kent Chapman. My ongoing PhD research has allowed me to learn and apply multiple genetic, biochemical, and metabolomic tools. I am currently involved in projects that focus on understanding how fatty acid amide hydrolases (FAAHs) regulate the metabolism of lipid signaling molecules (e.g. N-acylethanolamines -NAEs), and how this is associated with growth and stress responses in upland cotton. Our most recent publication shows how enhancement of FAAH activity by a phenoxyacyl ethanolamide positively affects cotton seedling growth, thus, corroborating and expanding prior worked made in the plant model Arabidopsis.