Richard (Larry) Blanton
Plant Biology Graduate Program Director, Professor of Plant Biology & Director of University Honors Program
My general area of research interest is cellular and developmental biology, particularly the role of the extracellular matrix in development and the mechanism of cellulose biogenesis. My research organism is the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum, a microorganism with a life cycle that alternates between unicellular and multicellular stages. The extracellular matrix formed during multicellular development in D. discoideum is composed principally of cellulose (a polysaccharide that is also the major constituent of plant cell walls) and proteins. By understanding the biochemistry and control of cellulose synthesis in D. discoideum and the relationship of cellulose to the extracellular proteins, I hope to develop an understanding of the cellular control of extracellular matrix formation in D. discoideum and its role in development. For a variety of reasons, D. discoideum is particularly amenable to this type of study, permitting me to ask questions that would be difficult to answer using a plant cell system. I expect that my results will be of interest not only to the large world-wide community of D. discoideum researchers, but also to plant biologists and evolutionary developmental biologists.
Selected Publications: (Last 5 years):
Kiedaisch, B.M., R.L.
Blanton, and C.H. Haigler. 2003. Characterization of a novel cellulose
synthesis inhibitor. Planta In press (published on-line).
Levraud, J.P.., M. Adam,, M.F. Luciani, C. de Chastellier, R.L. Blanton, and P. Golstein. 2003. Dictyostelium cell death: early emergence and demise of highly polarized paddle cells. Journal of Cell Biology 160: 1105-1114.
Coates, J.C., M.J. Grimson, R.S.B. Williams, W. Bergman, R.L. Blanton, and A.J. Harwood. 2002. Loss of the ß-catenin homologue aardvark causes ectopic stalk formation in Dictyostelium. Mechanisms of Development 116: 117-127.
Zhang, P., A.C. McGlynn, W.F. Loomis, R.L. Blanton, and C.M. West. 2001. Spore coat formation and timely sporulation depend on cellulose in Dictyostelium. Differentiation 67: 72-79.
Grimson, M.J., J.C. Coates, J.P. Reynolds, M. Shipman, R.L. Blanton, and A.J. Harwood, A J. 2000. Adherens junctions and ?-catenin-mediated cell signalling in a non-metazoan organism. Nature 408: 727-731.
Blanton, R.L., D. Fuller, N. Iranfar, M.J. Grimson, and W.F. Loomis. 2000. The cellulose synthase gene of Dictyostelium. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.) 97: 2391-2396.