John Celenza

Associate Professor of Biology

  • Title Associate Professor of Biology
  • Education B.S., Adelphi University;
    M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University

The Celenza laboratory focuses on how plants defend themselves against herbivory and microbial pathogens. Plants have evolved mechanisms distinct from animals to deter herbivory and pathogens that include chemical defense and a sophisticated innate immune system. Using genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry, we use the well-studied model system Arabidopsis thaliana and the related mustard Camelina sativa to determine key genes involved in plant defense. One aspect of our research focuses on tryptophan metabolism as tryptophan is a precursor of indolic glucosinolates, a key class of anti-herbivory compounds found in mustards. Our work has identified genes involved in the biosynthesis and regulation of indolic glucosinolates and our goal is to use these genes to enhance defense. A second line of research focuses on an Arabidopsis gene that regulates innate immunity in root tissue. Characterization of this gene will allow for an understanding of microbial defense in the root, an historically understudied area of innate immunity in Arabidopsis.

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