Dr. Asaph Cousins
School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University
The ability to monitor and predict how plants both influence and are influenced by future climatic conditions is critical for the health of our planet and for future food production. My research couples molecular biology techniques with plant physiology and mathematical modeling of photosynthesis to understand the mechanistic processes dictating plant-environment interactions. This research uses a variety of experimental techniques, including field experiments, leaf and whole plant gas exchange, recombinant DNA techniques, biochemistry, and metabolite analysis to elucidate how the interactions of plant light utilization, carbon and nutrient assimilation, and isotope discrimination are influenced by changing environmental conditions.
The two main areas my research is focusing on are:
1) Plant energy metabolism
Understanding the flow of energy between metabolic pathways and organelles is important for determining how plants will respond to environmental stress and future climatic conditions. This research uses gas exchange, mass spectrometry and metabolite analysis to understand the key steps in photosynthesis, photorespiration and nitrogen metabolism that coordinate the energy flow between these competing processes.
2) Carbon and oxygen isotope exchange in plants
Isotope analysis of atmospheric CO2 is an important tool for monitoring ecosystem changes in plant metabolism in response to climate change. However, to interpret the atmospheric CO2isotopic signature requires an understanding of the fractionation steps associated with specific processes during leaf gas exchange. This research uses molecular tools coupled with stable isotope analysis and mathematical modeling of photosynthesis and isotope exchange to understand how leaf metabolism and anatomy influence the exchange of carbon and water between plants and their environment.
I am excited to discuss research and graduate student opportunities. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in joining the lab.