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Michael Held, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Chemistry and Biochemistry 
Biochemistry Research Facility 118


Education:  Ph.D. Ohio University 2004


Research Interest:  Plant cell wall biochemistry - Plant cell wall biosynthesis; Trafficking of plant cell wall polymers; plant cell walls as sources of lignocellulosic bioenergy feedstocks. 


Current research

Plant cell walls are composed of polymeric networks of cellulose, crosslinking glycans, matrix polysaccharides, structural glycoproteins, and crosslinking phenolic compounds. With few exceptions, cell wall components are synthesized in the plant Golgi apparatus and targeted to the cell wall via the secretory pathway. Understanding the mechanisms that govern both the biosynthesis and the trafficking of these polymers are the principle research areas of interest in my lab. Plant cell wall biosynthesis is a highly coordinated process at the level of gene expression. Using an approach called virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) in barley and wheat, we are investigated the transcriptional and post-transcriptional responses to silencing various components of cell wall biosynthetic machinery. The consequences that silencing these genes have on cell wall biosynthesis are also being examined. Plant cell wall biosynthesis is also coordinated at the protein catalytic level. Evidence indicates that many cell wall biosynthetic enzymes participate as part of multi-subunit complexes. Using various cell biological and proteomic techniques, we are studying the nature of these enzyme complexes in order to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of biosynthesis as well as trafficking.