Plant Pathology

Hernan Garcia Ruiz

Assistant Professor

Summary: Our research is focused on virus-hosts interactions and on virus replication. Using model plants and model RNA viruses, we are interested in the mechanisms of antiviral immunity in plants, particularly in the biogenesis and activity of virus-derived small interfering RNAs and the molecular mechanism of initiation and activity of antiviral RNA silencing. These projects combine genetic, genomic, and bioinformatic approaches to the profiling of small interfering RNAs formed during virus infections. These and prior projects provide a robust environment for training undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in molecular virology, plant molecular virology, genetic engineering, plant small RNA biology, genomics, proteomics, viromics, and bioinformatics.

James L. Van Etten, PhD
Research Interests:  The Van Etten lab characterizes viruses that infect algae.  The algal viruses are among the largest DNA viruses discovered to date and have 375 or more protein-encoding genes as well as many transfer RNA encoding genes. The biological function of about 50% of these virus-encoded proteins have been identified.  Many of these proteins are completely unexpected and have not been found in viruses previously.  The algal viruses also contain other properties that are more typical of cellular organisms including introns and inteins.

Accumulating evidence indicates that these viruses and their genes have a long evolutionary history, possibly dating back to the time that prokaryotes and eukaryotes diverged, more than 3 billion years ago.  Our lab has a wide range of projects dealing with these viruses that range from basic molecular biology to more ecological studies.

For more information on Dr. Van Etten: Web Site