A fundamental feature of life is the interaction between its component parts, without which life would not exist. Interaction occurs at all levels. At the molecular level, proteins and nucleic acids form complexes that create the structural and functional entity, which is the cell. Cells interact to form multicellular organisms (eukaryotes) or communities (prokaryotes). At both the molecular and cellular levels, interaction involves communication in addition to association. It is by way of these communications that most of the miracles of nature are achieved. We are interested in understanding how molecules, cells and organisms coordinate their activities to achieve functions that they cannot do individually. In the past, this interest has involved studies of cellular responses to growth factors and other regulators. Now we are also interested in plant-microbe interactions.
Currently, our focus is to develop the sensors that are need to detect extracellular regulators in real time. This effort has brought us to studying nucleic acid aptamers that can be linked to small sensors for detecting cell regulators and toxins in the environment of cells and in our general environment. Although our studies of cellular responses continue, a major part of our current work is to develop and understand aptamers sufficiently so that they can be used in sensors to detect, in real time, the change in the molecular composition of our environment.
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