Welcome to the Muday lab!

Photo credit: Ken Bennett

We are part of the Department of Biology at Wake Forest University.

Our lab’s diverse research interests find their common thread in understanding how cells translate signals from their environment or other cells into appropriate responses. We use biochemical, genetic, and molecular approaches to study hormone signaling, transcriptional networks, and flavonol regulation of redox signaling n the plants Arabidopsis thaliana and in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), as well as human cell culture.

A large part of our lab’s work has involved understanding how the plant hormones, auxin and ethylene, work independently and together to control root development. The two hormones have synergistic effects inhibiting root elongation and stimulating root hair initiation and opposite effects on lateral root development. We have worked to understand how ethylene influences auxin transport through the root to produce these changes. More recently, we have begun to dissect transcriptional networks downstream of auxin and ethylene signaling in roots by examining the kinetics of changes in the transcriptome at multiple time points after hormone treatment. This approach has brought us into collaboration with faculty in the Computer Science and Mathematics Departments at Wake Forest University to use Bayesian modeling of this time-course data to identify patterns and relationships between transcripts. We are using this information to identify transcription factors and other genes important for ethylene-mediated root development and to map the gene regulatory network.

Another major focus of our lab is the interplay between flavonols and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Flavonols are specialized plant metabolites (upstream of anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for blue or purple color in many plants). We are testing the hypothesis that these molecules  act as antioxidants in planta, scavenging ROS, and modulating development. ROS can function as important signaling molecules at low levels, but high concentrations can cause damage to a cell’s components, so it is important to maintain the appropriate balance. Research in our lab examines the role flavonols play in modulation of localized accumulation of ROS and the role of these compounds in root development, stomatal opening and closure as it relates to drought stress, and in pollen susceptibility to heat stress. Our work on gravitropism brings together hormone and ROS signaling to understand how roots can adjust their growth and reorient in response to gravity to grow with the gravity vector.

Our work in human cell culture also focuses on hormone signaling, primarily how the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone regulate leptin and insulin signaling. We have also examined how flavonols, which humans consume from plant foods, may act as antioxidants in human cells, particularly how they may restore insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant cells.

For more information about particular research projects and associated publications, please see the Research tab above.