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Welcome to the DeFalco lab @ Western

We study how plants sense and respond to their environment at the molecular level.

Our lab is part of the Department of Biology at Western University in London, Canada.

Research: Decoding receptor signaling pathways

We are interested in understanding how plants interact with and respond to their environment at the molecular level. Like animals, plants rely on cell surface receptor to perceive external stimuli. The most abundant of these receptors in plants are the receptor kinases (RKs), which recognize self or non-self derived ligands to control essentially all aspects of plant life, from growth, development, and reproduction to immunity and stress responses. We use a variety of molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches to study the cellular signal transduction pathways downstream of these RKs.

Many environmental stimuli trigger RK-dependent responses, but the signaling components downstream of such receptors remain poorly defined. We are particularly interested in the roles of receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs), which are key components of many RK complexes and are thought to relay signal transduction via the phosphorylation of substrate proteins. We study how these kinases regulate and contribute to plant responses to environmental perturbations and stresses.

We use diverse techniques and tools to study RK signalling (primarily in our favourite model plant, Arabidopsis, but also other model and crop organisms), with a long-term goal of advancing knowledge of plant cell signaling and stress biology by deciphering the pathways that connect RKs to downstream physiological processes at the molecular level. We are also interested in understanding the evolution of kinase signaling in plants and the molecular basis of kinase-substrate interactions, as well as applying our knowledge to engineer novel responses and improved traits. You can read more about our work in our publications.



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