John Markwell, Ph.D.

Research Interests:   We study photosynthesis in plants, with particular emphasis on metabolism in the chloroplast and mitochondria.  Currently, we are focused on the mitochondrial enzyme, formate dehydrogenase.  This enzyme normally uses an NAD cofactor to convert formate to carbon dioxide.  We are currently trying to use ‘sloppy PCR’ to introduce random mutations and select for altered forms of the enzyme with the ability to use NADP as a cofactor, rather than NAD.  We think that if we can put such an altered enzyme back into the plant mitochondrion, these transgenic plants would have increased photosynthetic efficiency.

For more information on Dr. Markwell: Web Site

Madhavan Soundararajan, Ph.D.
Professor of Practice

Research Interests:  Carbon and nitrogen isotope fractionation in plants, Lignin biosynthesis in switch grass, Carbon sequestration in agri-ecosystems, stomatal physiology, Role of  acetylcholine in signaling processes in plants, Carotene and natural rubber biosynthesis.

For more information on Dr. Soundararajan: Web Site  (no individual web page)

Donald Weeks, Ph.D.

Research Interests:  The Weeks laboratory focuses on projects dealing with the genetic engineering of crop plants expressing important new agronomic traits and on mechanisms that allow efficient photosynthesis under conditions in which carbon dioxide becomes limiting.  The lab has recently developed crop plants (soybean and tomatoes) that are resistant to treatment with the herbicide, dicamba, a widely used, low-cost and environmentally-friendly weed killer.  Projects dealing with photosynthesis are aimed at understanding, at the molecular level, the mechanism by which model plant cell systems are able to increase internal concentrations of CO2 and, thereby, increase the efficiency of photosynthesis.  A through knowledge of these systems may ultimately allow increases in the productivity of agricultural crops used in both developed and developing countries of the world.

For more information on Dr. Weeks: Web Site