Zachary Beamer, first author of Aquaporin Family Lactic Acid Channel NIP2;1 Promotes Plant Survival Under Low Oxygen Stress in Arabidopsis
Current Position: Graduate Teaching Assistant, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Education: BSc in Biological Sciences and Chemistry (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
Non-scientific Interests: Cooking, cycling, water polo
Brief bio: During my undergraduate education, I developed a keen interest in the area of protein biochemistry and examining how a particular protein may influence the physiology of the plant under various conditions. As a graduate student (Dr. Daniel Roberts, UTK), I have spent most of my Ph.D. tenure researching a multifunctional family of membrane protein channels called Nodulin26-like Intrinsic Proteins (NIPs). My first project involves examination of the pore structure for several members of this subfamily in Arabidopsis thaliana to determine which features provide the selectivity for solutes that are unique among the members of the aquaporin superfamily. My second project explores the role of a hypoxia induced, lactic acid transporter, NIP2;1, which contributes to the survival of the plant under low oxygen stress. We have discovered that NIP2;1 mediates the efflux of lactic acid from the plant in order to maintain glycolytic flux and minimize cytosolic acidosis in hypoxia. NIP2;1 homologues have been identified in a number of plants species indicating that lactic acid efflux is likely a conserved mechanism for plants to cope with the low oxygen stress. I plan to advance this work to hopefully create the framework for improved crop resilience to stress as well as increased agricultural productivity.