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Zinnia Gonzalez-Carranza

Lecturer and PI, Faculty of Science

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Biography

Lecturer in Plant Sciences

Zinnia's research fall into two areas: abscission & cell separation and plant development. Her current research areas include:

1) Study of flower abscission in Arabidopsis

2) the role of the F-box protein HAWAIIAN SKIRT (HWS) in plant development via the ubiquitination pathway.

3) microRNA biogenesis in plants

4) Investigating the role of the HWS orthologe genes in rice and corn.

Keywords: Abscission, cell separation, F-box proteins, ubiquitination, microRNAs.

Expertise Summary

During previous postdoctoral roles, Dr. Gonzalez was able to map successfully the HAWAIIAN SKIRT gene - the mutant does not shed its floral parts because the sepal bases remain fused during development. We are in the process of identifying the putative target(s) for degradation from this gene. I also exploited the use of a transgenic line that I had generated expressing the reporter GFP specifically in abscission zone cells. Using this ProPGAZAT:GFP line I was able to identify and collect abscission zone cells separating in vivo, and I developed a methodology to generate the first single cell cDNA, yeast one-hybrid and yeast two-hybrid libraries from this material. I have used the cDNA library to produce the first complete transcript profile from abscission zone cells and this has revealed expression of genes whose site of transcription was previously undocumented. Currently I am involved in the characterization of seven genes identified with this strategy.

At the present we have collaborations with Dr. Janny Peters in Nijmegen, (Netherlands); Prof. Mohammed Bendahmane from ENS in Lyon, France, Prof. Virginia Walbot in Stanford University, USA, Raiduun Aalen and Dr. Melinka Butenko from the University of Oslo and Dr. Sarah McKim from the Dept of Botany from the UBC in Canada.

I also performed promoter deletion analyses from abscission related gene and identified a putative abscission-related domain. My work also broadened the focus of the programme of research by introducing a bioinformatics approach to identify other polygalacturonase genes that might make an important contribution to cell separation.

I am working in the characterization of two ubiquitin-like genes from the Arabidopsis model species.

Teaching Summary

I convene and teach the core lectures and some plant specialist option lectures in the module: Genes and Cells 2 (D212P3), I deliver the plant practical sessions for the Global Food Security Module… read more

Research Summary

The characterization of some of the genes identified in my past research (we identidified around 200 genes of interest and up to date 7 genes studied from the library are abscission related) is… read more

Academic community:

Study Abroad Coordinator for the U21 and the Erasmus programme.

Awards:

Scholarships. Gordon Research conference, 2004, 2000, Botanical Society; Meeting 1999, SEB; Meeting 1999, 1998 and 1997. Departmental postgraduate student bursary, U. Nottingham, 1997. Carr Scholarship, 1996/97; Academic scholarship, CONACYT Mexico; 1995-1998. The University of Nottingham; special scholarship for the Ph D degree. Average scholarships from the UANL, Mexico, 1989-1992, and average scholarships form the Public Education Secretary, Mexico, Sept 1985-June 1988. Congresses I have participated in more than 20 conferences where I have given both oral and poster presentations.

I convene and teach the core lectures and some plant specialist option lectures in the module: Genes and Cells 2 (D212P3), I deliver the plant practical sessions for the Global Food Security Module (D211F3) and I teach half of the module Plants and the Light Environment (D235P6).

Current Research

The characterization of some of the genes identified in my past research (we identidified around 200 genes of interest and up to date 7 genes studied from the library are abscission related) is on-going and forms an innovative part of the projects of PhD students and visitors who I am supervising. The research tools I have generated are not only in use within the Plant Sciences Division at Nottingham but are also currently being used in collaborations with other plant scientists around the world.

I have been generating crosses from the Hawaiian Skirt gene with other genes and we are currently investigating the role of this gene in the plant development and we are looking for the putative target(s) for this particular F-box protein.

I am also investigating the roles from two ubiquitin like genes in the model species Arabidopsis by generation of Knock out lines, overexpressors lines, doubles and triple knock outs and the interaction of these genes through the use of a Yeast two hybrid screening methodology.

Past Research

During my PhD I isolated and characterised a Polygalacturonase expressed during leaf abscission in Brassica napus, and I identified the orthologue gene in Arabidopsis thaliana.

During the 3 years of my first postdoctoral post, I exploited the information generated from my PhD work and using a 'crop to model species' strategy allowed me to undertake promoter deletion analyses and identify a putative abscission-related domain. It also enabled me to develop the tools and methodologies, including the molecular tagging of abscission zone cells, that have proved to be the foundation for the successful submission of a further project to BBSRC. My work also broadened the focus of the programme of research by introducing a bioinformatics approach to identify other polygalacturonases genes that might make an important contribution to cell separation (see publication list for references).

During my last postdoctoral post I was able to map successfully the HAWAIIAN SKIRT gene - the mutant does not shed its floral parts because the sepal bases remain fused during development. The gene encodes an F-box protein. During the course of the project I also exploited the use of a transgenic line that I had generated expressing the reporter GFP specifically in abscission zone cells. Using this PGAZAT::GFP line I was able to identify and collect abscission zone cells separating in vivo, and I developed a methodology to generate the first single cell cDNA, yeast one-hybrid and yeast two-hybrid libraries from this material. I have used the cDNA library to produce the first complete transcript profile from abscission zone cells and this has revealed expression of genes whose site of transcription was previously undocumented.

Future Research

I intend to advance in our knowledge in the three areas I have been actively involved in the last 10 years: cell separation processes with an emphasis in the abscission process by following some of the genes identified in the cDNA library screening I generated in the past, the role of the F-box protein Hawaiian Skirt, and the characterization of the two ubiquitin like genes from Arabidopsis.

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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