Jeff Nelson

Contact Info:
AP&M Building, Room 3832
University of California
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0130

Phone: (858) 822-7787

Organisms that live on the surface of the planet experience daily cycles of light and dark as the earth rotates on its axis. As a result, they have evolved endogenous molecular mechanisms that predict natural cycles and improve their fitness by adjusting behavior and physiology to align with the diurnal rhythm. Plants are no exception to this principle, as they possess a variety of complex genetic autoregulatory feedback loops that confer an approximately 24-hour circadian period and regulate processes such as growth, flowering time, stomatal opening, and CO2 assimilation. Previous research in the plant reference organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, has led to the identification of numerous genes that make up the oscillatory core of these feedback loops. However, it is likely that additional components remain undiscovered because individual loss-of-function mutations have little effect due to genetic redundancy. This complicates the identification and characterization of new circadian components; traditional forward mutagenesis screens presently yield only additional alleles of already identified clock genes. Thus, I plan to undertake large-scale reverse genetic approaches in order to discover previously unknown clock components. Additionally, innovative technologies such as chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) coupled with massively parallel micro-read sequencing will be invaluable in discerning new clock members and defining transcriptional networks of the Arabidopsis circadian clock. My co-advisors are Dr. Steve Kay and Dr. Joe Ecker.

B.S. Biochemistry & Neurobiology
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Kay Lab:

Ecker Lab: