Plantae Presents: Zach Lippman and Arjun Khakhar

Plantae Presents – Zach Lippman and Arjun Khakhar

Wednesday, December 9, 10 am EST, 4 pm CET

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Zach Lippman: Cis-regulatory control of quantitative trait variation and pleiotropy

Zach Lippman is a Professor of Plant Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. His research group integrates genetics, development, genomics, and genome editing to study flowering and flower production in nature and agriculture. Taking advantage of natural and induced variation in these processes in tomato and related Solanaceae plants, Lippman’s group has shown how stem cell proliferation and maturation underlie diversity in vegetative and reproductive shoot systems. Identifying the genes and mechanisms underlying this diversity has led to broader exploration of the roles of structural variation, gene regulation, and epistasis in development, domestication, and breeding. Based on these discoveries, Lippman is developing and applying innovative concepts and tools for crop improvement. His contributions to plant genetics and genome editing were recognized by receiving a MacArthur Fellowship and the US National Academy of Sciences Award in Food and Agriculture.


Arjun Khakhar: Accelerating hypothesis testing using RNA viral vectors to deploy synthetic transcription factors in plants

Arjun Khakhar is a bioengineer by training and began his career building synthetic signaling systems in yeast and E. coli in the labs of Eric Klavins and Georg Seelig at the University of Washington. He then used auxin-responsive synthetic transcription factors initially prototyped in yeast to reprogram shoot architecture in Arabidopsis in the lab of Jennifer Nemhauser. After graduating he moved to the University of Minnesota and has been working as a Grand Challenges Postdoctoral fellow in the labs of Dan Voytas and Mike Smanski using similar approaches to reprogram shoot architecture in tomato. His current work focuses on bringing together virology and plant synthetic biology to create new tools that accelerate hypothesis testing and crop engineering by circumventing transgenesis.


Moderated by Agustin Zsögön

Agustin Zsögön is a geneticist and received his PhD in Plant Sciences from the Australian National University. He has been an Assistant Professor of Plant Physiology at the Federal University of Viçosa (Minas Gerais, Brazil) since 2015. His research focuses on the genetic and physiological bases of crop domestication and improvement in the Solanaceae.

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