Waksman Funded Projects

A list of currently funded research projects as reported by various funding sources.

Areas of Research

More than a few Model organisms at work: Maize, Drosophila, C. Elegans, Mice, Tobacco, Yeast, E.coli, Algae and more.

SpirodelaBase

Methods and Tools to aid researchers.

In the News: High School Student Makes Duckweed Discovery

Old Bridge Student Finds Unknown Gene in Duckweed During a Student Scholar Program at Rutgers University

High-throughput Sequencing Services Available from the Waksman Genomics Core Facility

Genomics Facility's High-Throughput, Next Generation Systems offers major advancements in throughput and maximum savings with new technology.

Located on Busch Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Waksman Institute of Microbiology is an interdisciplinary research institute devoted to excellence in basic research. Focus areas include developmental biology, cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, genetics, and genomics.

To support the educational mission of Rutgers, Waksman faculty members hold appointments in academic departments throughout the university. Our researchers train undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows, as well as engage high school students in research through an outreach program.

Latest News

“Once I entered Rutgers in 2013, I felt like I need to be involved in research because it was calling me,” he said.

Chris Wakim’s odyssey took him from Alexandria, Egypt, to Bergen Community College to Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where he will graduate next month with a double major in microbiology and the biotechnology concentration in bioinformatics.

By Deborah Walsh, Suburban Trends
Although some students might relish a respite from the most challenging of school work over the summer months, a couple of Kinnelon High School (KHS) students seized an opportunity to conduct high level scientific research at the Waksman Student Scholars Program (WSSP) Summer Institute at Rutgers University.
 

Madelaine Travaille, the school district's science supervisor, said a science research club was started at KHS in the 2015-16 school year.

 

Karl Maramorosch, 101, professor emeritus, Department of Entomology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, passed away of natural causes on May 9, 2016, during a visit to Poland.

Rutgers Today Media Contact: Todd B. Bates

Ten Rutgers professors have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor conferred on 381 other experts in the U.S. and abroad.

The fellows were chosen by their AAAS peers for efforts to advance science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished, according to the AAAS.

Andrea Gallavotti, Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at the Waksman Institute, is a Co-PI of a recently awarded five-year collaborative grant. The project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and titled “Genomic and Synthetic Approaches Linking Auxin Signaling Modules to Functional Domains in Maize”, seeks to understand how auxin signaling regulates the formation of specific functional domains in maize inflorescences (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1546873).

Discovered in bacteria as viral defense mechanism, researchers program C2c2 to manipulate cellular RNA using CRISPR

Recent Publications

Larkins, BA, Wu Y, Song R, Messing J.  2017.  Maize seed storage proteins. Maize Kernel Development. :175-189.
Messing, J.  2017.  Does Investment in Research Always Pay Off? American Academy of Arts and Sciences Bulletin. 70(3):45-47.
Garcia, N, Li Y, Dooner HK, Messing J.  2017.  Maize defective kernel mutant generated by insertion of a Ds element in a gene encoding a highly conserved TTI2 cochaperone. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114(20):5165-5170. Abstract
We have used the newly engineered transposable element Dsg to tag a gene that gives rise to a defective kernel (dek) phenotype. Dsg requires the autonomous element Ac for transposition. Upon excision, it leaves a short DNA footprint that can create in-frame and frameshift insertions in coding sequences. Therefore, we could create alleles of the tagged gene that confirmed causation of the dek phenotype by the Dsg insertion. The mutation, designated dek38-Dsg, is embryonic lethal, has a defective basal endosperm transfer (BETL) layer, and results in a smaller seed with highly underdeveloped endosperm. The maize dek38 gene encodes a TTI2 (Tel2-interacting protein 2) molecular cochaperone. In yeast and mammals, TTI2 associates with two other cochaperones, TEL2 (Telomere maintenance 2) and TTI1 (Tel2-interacting protein 1), to form the triple T complex that regulates DNA damage response. Therefore, we cloned the maize Tel2 and Tti1 homologs and showed that TEL2 can interact with both TTI1 and TTI2 in yeast two-hybrid assays. The three proteins regulate the cellular levels of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related kinases (PIKKs) and localize to the cytoplasm and the nucleus, consistent with known subcellular locations of PIKKs. dek38-Dsg displays reduced pollen transmission, indicating TTI2's importance in male reproductive cell development.
Xiang, X, Wu Y, Planta J, Messing J, Leustek T.  2017.  Overexpression of serine acetyltransferase in maize leaves increases seed-specific methionine-rich zeins. Plant biotechnology journal. Abstract
Maize kernels do not contain enough of the essential sulphur-amino acid methionine (Met) to serve as a complete diet for animals, even though maize has the genetic capacity to store Met in kernels. Prior studies indicated that the availability of the sulphur (S)-amino acids may limit their incorporation into seed storage proteins. Serine acetyltransferase (SAT) is a key control point for S-assimilation leading to Cys and Met biosynthesis, and SAT overexpression is known to enhance S-assimilation without negative impact on plant growth. Therefore, we overexpressed Arabidopsis thaliana AtSAT1 in maize under control of the leaf bundle sheath cell-specific rbcS1 promoter to determine the impact on seed storage protein expression. The transgenic events exhibited up to 12-fold higher SAT activity without negative impact on growth. S-assimilation was increased in the leaves of SAT overexpressing plants, followed by higher levels of storage protein mRNA and storage proteins, particularly the 10-kDa δ-zein, during endosperm development. This zein is known to impact the level of Met stored in kernels. The elite event with the highest expression of AtSAT1 showed 1.40-fold increase in kernel Met. When fed to chickens, transgenic AtSAT1 kernels significantly increased growth rate compared with the parent maize line. The result demonstrates the efficacy of increasing maize nutritional value by SAT overexpression without apparent yield loss. Maternal overexpression of SAT in vegetative tissues was necessary for high-Met zein accumulation. Moreover, SAT overcomes the shortage of S-amino acids that limits the expression and accumulation of high-Met zeins during kernel development.