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Peter B Goldsbrough

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Professor
765.494.1933
765.494.0363
Lilly Hall Room 1-422

Dr. Goldsbrough is currently not accepting new graduate students into his program.

Our research is focused on understanding how plants respond and adapt to a variety of environmental stresses, including heavy metals and xenobiotics such as herbicides.

Some heavy metals, such as copper and zinc, are required for normal metabolic function while others, including cadmium and lead, are toxic. Plants use a variety of methods to prevent heavy metals from affecting their growth. Ligands such as phytochelatins and metallothioneins bind heavy metals within the cell thereby reducing the damage these metals would otherwise cause. We are currently examining the functions of phytochelatins and metallothioneins, in both metal tolerance and normal metal ion homeostasis. We are also using a genetic approach to understand how plants acquire heavy metals from the soil and regulate the distribution of metals among different tissues.

Plants are exposed to a wide variety of toxic chemicals, either from other organisms (e.g. allelochemicals) or by man (such as herbicides). Plants are equipped with a variety of mechanisms to detoxify these compounds and prevent damage. One mechanism involves conjugation to glutathione (GSH) and this is catalyzed by a family of enzymes knows as glutathiane S. transfereses (GSTs). In plants GSTs are encoded by a family of approximately 50 genes. We are interested in learning about the functions of these genes. Their regulation by various environmental factors, and how their genetic manipulation might be used to improve crop plants.