"Membranes are the barriers through which cells experience their changing environments. The dynamic responses of membrane lipids and proteins are required both as signals of and physical responses to a variety of biotic and abiotic factors. One of the most dramatic membrane responses is seen in plants' response to cold and freezing. Membranes are directly damaged by cold conditions, which challenge their fluidity. A wide variety of plant species from diverse regions and evolutionary origins have developed tolerance to temperate winter conditions, allowing them to grow year-round. In northern latitudes, these species outperform crop species domesticated in tropical regions, such as maize and rice.
It is our long-term goal to understand how membrane dynamics can contribute to plant health. For its excellent genetics and established biology, we use the model system Arabidopsis thaliana as the basis for studies involving the roles of specific proteins or enzymes. To compare responses in tolerant and non-tolerant species, we also incorporate a diverse range of grass species. Our studies are performed using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and biophysical approaches."