Prior to joining the Danforth Center in 2011, Dr. Mockler was Associate Professor at Oregon State University. He was also a member of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing (part of the Computational and Genome Biology Initiative) and a member of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of California – Los Angeles and his B.A. in Molecular Biology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Dr. Mockler was a postdoctoral associate at the Salk Institute in LaJolla, California.
The ultimate goal of the Mockler lab is to elucidate the means to predict plant performance, responses, and behaviors from genetic/epigenetic/transcriptomic data across a range of environments. Achieving this goal requires developing new computational tools, predictive algorithms, modeling approaches, development of monocot-focused experimental tools, and a high-throughput digital phenotyping platform.
To date, my group has used several systems (e.g. Arabidopsis, rice, poplar, Brachypodium) in our functional and comparative genomic studies. For the next stage of my research I plan to focus on a monocot model system (Brachypodium and/or Setaria). Brachypodium and Setaria both have advantages that may warrant using both systems. Brachypodium is a more mature model system with more genomic tools currently available but it is a C3 plant and, therefore, a more appropriate model for crops such as rice, wheat, barley, and oats. Setaria is currently less developed in terms of genomic tools but it is a C4 plant and a better model for C4 crops such as maize, sorghum, and switchgrass.
The research efforts we will pursue will be directed at empirical elucidation of transcriptional regulatory networks. The goal will be to functionally and physically define, characterize, and perturb key transcriptional regulatory networks directly relevant to plant responses to abiotic stress (cold, salt, drought, heat) and plant performance (yield, growth). We will: a) identify key transcription factors (TFs) that function in abiotic stress responses; b) identify the in vivo targets of these TFs, including other TFs; c) systematically perturb the TF networks through mis-expression; and d) assess both transcriptomic and phenotypic effects of the perturbation. This work will build upon our current efforts in Brachypodium to map transcriptomic responses to abiotic stress and the light environment.
The other key resource that we will establish is a high-throughput digital phenotyping platform. This platform will perform automated digital capture of phenotypic data in Brachypodium and/or Setaria in a tightly controlled plant growth environment. It will enable correlation of TF functions, natural variation and other genotype data, transcriptomic responses, and other molecular datasets with plant phenotypes, thus empowering trait discovery in monocots.
Plant RNA-binding proteins and RNA processing
Promoter architecture and genomic control of gene expression
Brachypodium distachyon, an experimental model for cereal genomics
Todd Mockler, Ph.D.
975 N. Warson Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63132