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Ahmed Faik, Ph.D.


Environmental and Plant Biology 
512 Porter Hall


Education:  Ph.D., University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, 1993


Research Interest:  Plant Cell Wall Biochemistry


One of the most important differences between plant and animal cells is that plant cells have an extracellular structure called the cell wall that surrounds the protoplast. For plants, cell wall controls growth, morphogenesis, and interactions with the environment. For humans, cell wall polysaccharides and proteoglycans are important raw materials in the wood, paper, textile, fuel, and food industries. Thus, a good understanding of the biosynthesis of these macromolecules is a crucial step to improve plant development and production as a sustained source for our needs.  My laboratory aims to investigate two aspects of cell wall biology using Arabidopsis and wheat as models, and using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes genomic, biochemical, and proteomic strategies.


One of the central issues in plant biology is how plant cell wall polysaccharides and proteoglycans are synthesized, transported, and then integrated into the cell wall. Less than 10% of the enzymes involved in these processes are identified. Therefore, our goal is to identify the genes involved and dissect their regulation at the molecular level.


The other area of research focuses on elucidating the importance of the cross talk between the cell wall and the plasma membrane. This interaction can be crucial regulatory events for important physiological processes. Fasciclin-like arabinogalactan-proteins (FLA-like AGPs) are though to be involved in such interaction. Using bioinformatics approach, we identified and cloned several FLA-like AGP candidates in wheat and rice genomes and functional analysis is underway.