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Dianella Howarth

St. John's University
Department of Biological Sciences
8000 Utopia Pkwy
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States

718 990-6269

Taxa Studied: Plants, Fedia, Dipsacales, Goodeniaceae
Techniques Employed: Degenerate PCR, Quantitative PCR (qPCR), Sanger Sequencing, Other, RNA interference(RNAi), VIGS
Research Description: My research integrates phylogenetic, molecular evolution, and developmental genetic approaches to understand evolutionary mechanisms underlying plant development. I compare changes in the number, sequence, expression, or function of genes across different plant groups and determine how these changes shaped the morphology and evolution of the groups. Currently, I am specifically studying the evolutionary relationships of CYCLOIDEA, a TCP transcription factor involved in floral symmetry. In the case of TCP genes, there were three major duplications in the CYCLOIDEA gene family that correlate with the explosion of diverse but florally constrained eudicots (included about 70% of flowering plant species). Additionally, there were two separate duplication events of CYCLOIDEA, which correlate with a shift from radially symmetric to bilaterally symmetric flowers within the group Dipsacales. We currently have been successfully knocking down individual copies of CYC-like genes in Fedia cornucopiae using Virus-Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS). We are also in the early stages of developing a transformation protocol in Fedia as well.
Lab Web Page: http://www.phylodiversity.net/dhowarth/
Willing to Host Undergraduates: YES
Actively Seeking Undergraduates: YES
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