Assistant Professor
Ph.D. (2006) University of Wisconsin, Madison

Contact

david.nelson@ucr.edu
  • Research Interests -
    • I am interested in how plant growth and development are dynamically shaped by environmental cues. My lab’s current aim is to discover how plants sense and respond to karrikins and strigolactones. Karrikins are butenolide compounds found in smoke that promote seed germination of many species following a fire. Strigolactones are hormones that have wide-ranging roles in plant shoot and root development, recruit arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses, and trigger germination of parasitic weeds. Remarkably, we have found that karrikins and strigolactones are recognized by a shared pathway. We are using genetic approaches in the model system Arabidopsis thaliana to define this pathway, and determine how it influences growth through crosstalk with light- and hormone-signaling networks. We are also exploring adaptation of this signaling mechanism in fire followers and parasites. We expect that new insights into how karrikins and strigolactones control seed germination will ultimately lead to advances in agriculture and fire ecology.
Research Interests:

Environmental perception and response mechanisms in plants:  environmental cues for plant growth and development; how plants sense and respond to karrikins (in smoke) and strigolactones (hormones in plant shoot and root development); adaptation of signaling mechanisms in fire followers and parasites; ultimately leading to advances in agriculture and fire ecology

Selected Publications:
  • Nelson, D.C., G.R. Flematti, E.L. Ghisalberti, K.W. Dixon and S.M. Smith. 2012. Regulation of seed germination and seedling growth by chemical signals from burning vegetation. Annual Reviews of Plant Biology 63: 107-130.
  • Waters, M.T., D.C. Nelson, A. Scaffidi, G.R. Flematti, Y. Sun, K.W. Dixon and S.M. Smith. 2012. Specialization within the DWARF14 protein familiy confers distinct responses to karrikins and strigolactones in Arabidopsis. Development 139(7): 1285-1295.
  • Waters, M.T., S.M. Smith and D.C. Nelson. 2011. Smoke signals and seed dormancy: Where next for MAX2? Plant Signaling & Behavior 6(9): 1418-1422.
  • Nelson, D.C., A. Scaffidi, E.A. Dun, M.T. Waters, G.R. Flematti, K.W. Dixon, C.A. Beveridge, E.L. Ghisalberti, and S.M. Smith. 2011. F-box protein MAX2 has dual roles in karrikin and strigolactone signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108:8897-8902.
  • Scaffidi, A., G.R. Flematti, D.C. Nelson, K.W. Dixon, S.M. Smith, and E.L. Ghisalberti. 2011. The synthesis and biological evaluation of labelled karrikinolides for the elucidation of the mode of action of the seed germination stimulant. Tetrahedron 67:152-157.
  • Nelson, D.C., G.R. Flematti, J. Riseborough, E.L. Ghisalberti, K.W. Dixon, and S.M. Smith. 2010. Karrikins enhance light responses during germination and seedling development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 107:7095-7100.
  • Flematti, G.R., A. Scaffidi, E.D. Goddard-Borger, C.H. Heath, D.C. Nelson, L.E. Commander, R.V. Stick, K.W. Dixon, S.M. Smith, and E.L. Ghisalberti. 2010. Structure-activity relationship of karrikin germination stimulants. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58:8612-8617.
  • Chiwocha, S.D.S., K.W. Dixon, G.R. Flematti, E.L. Ghisalberti, D.J. Merritt, D.C. Nelson, J. Riseborough, S.M. Smith, and J.C. Stevens. 2009. Karrikins: A new family of plant growth regulators in smoke. Plant Science 177:252-256.
  • Nelson, D.C., J. Riseborough, G.R. Flematti, J.C. Stevens, E.L. Ghisalberti, K.W. Dixon, and S.M. Smith. 2009. Karrikins discovered in smoke trigger Arabidopsis seed germination by a mechanism requiring gibberellic acid synthesis and light. Plant Physiology 149:863-873.
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