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Joshua R Widhalm

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture 

  • Assistant Professor of Horticulture
Horticulture Room 112
625 Agriculture Mall Dr
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Dr. Joshua Widhalm earned his Ph.D. via the Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying plant quinone metabolism.  Then, he did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Natalia Dudareva in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University investigating the metabolism of phenylalanine and phenylalanine-derived natural products in plants.  From 2012-2015, Dr. Widhalm was a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow sponsored by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Dr. Widhalm’s research program is focused on plant allelochemicals, natural products released into the environment that influence the growth and development of other species.  He is particularly interested in elucidating the biosynthesis of allelopathic naphthoquinones and investigating their metabolic connection with quinones involved in respiration and photosynthesis.  His research on allelopathic naphthoquinones will also encompass deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in their release into the environment, determining their biochemical modes of action, and exploring their roles in promoting (a)biotic stress resistance.  The long term goal of Dr. Widhalm’s research program is to translate the gained basic knowledge into innovative strategies to harness plant allelochemicals for crop improvement.  Dr. Widhalm is also working on identifying new naturally-occurring derivatives of plant naphthoquinones, which have emerged as promising anti-cancer drugs.

Awards & Honors

(2012) Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

(2015) Don Carlson Outstanding Postdoc Award. Purdue University.

Selected Publications

Widhalm, J. R., Jaini, R., Morgan, J. A., & Dudareva, N. (2015). Rethinking how volatiles are released from plant cells. Trends in Plant Science, 20(9), 545-550.

Widhalm, J. R., Gutensohn, M., Yoo, H., Adebesin, F., Qian, Y., Guo, L., . . . Dudareva, N. (2015). Identification of a plastidial phenylalanine exporter that influences flux distribution through the phenylalanine biosynthetic network. Nature Commun, 6(8142). doi:10.1039/ncomms9142

Widhalm, J. R., & Dudareva, N. (2015). A familiar ring to it: biosynthesis of plant benzoic acids. Mol Plant, 8(1), 83-97.

Block, A., Widhalm, J. R., Fahiti, A., Cahoon, R. E., Wamboldt, Y., Elowsky, C., . . . Basset, G. J. (2014). The origin and biosynthesis of the benzenoid moiety of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q) in arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 26(5), 1938-1948.

Yoo, H., Widhalm, J. R., Qian, Y., Maeda, H., Cooper, B. R., Jannasch, A. S., . . . Dudareva, N. (2013). A microbial-like pathway contributes to phenylalanine biosynthesis in plants via a cytosolic tyrosine:phenylpyruvate aminotransferase. Nature Commun, 4(2833). doi:10.1038/ncomms3833

Qualley, A. V., Widhalm, J. R., Adebesin, F., Kish, C. M., & Dudareva, N. (2012). Completion of the core -oxidative pathway of benzoic acid biosynthesis in plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109(40), 16383-16388.

Widhalm, J. R., Ducluzeau, A. L., Buller, N. E., Elowsky, C. G., Olsen, L. I., & Basset, G. J. (2011). Phylloquinone (Vitamin K1): function, enzymes and gene. Advances in Botanical Research, 71(2), 205-215.

Furt, F., Van Oostende, C., Widhalm, J. R., Dale, M. A., Wertz, J., & Basset, G. J. (2010). A bimodular oxidoreductase mediates the specific reduction of phylloquinone (vitamin K1) in chloroplasts. Plant J, 64, 38-46.

Widhalm, J. R., Van Oostende, C., Furt, F., & Basset, G. J. (2009). A dedicated thioesterase of the Hotdog-fold family is required for the biosynthesis of the naphthoquinone ring of vitamin K1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106(14), 5599-55603.

Van Oostende, C., Widhalm, J. R., & Basset, G. J. (2008). Detection and quantification of vitamin K1 quinol in leaf tissues. Phytochemistry, 69, 2457-2462.