I received my Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from University of São Paulo, Brazil, where I was also awarded my Ph.D. in Genetics and Plant Breeding. My Ph.D. research involved altering the composition of cell wall polysaccharides in transgenic tobacco plants by modulating the expression of genes encoding nucleotide sugar interconversion enzymes. I had the chance to develop part of those studies in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology of Purdue University, under the supervision of Dr. Nick Carpita which was an excellent experience.
As a postdoctoral research associate in Dr. Rose’s lab I continued to pursue my interests in plant cell walls. My main project involved the investigation of the physiological roles and mechanisms of action of a structural class of plant glycosyl hydrolase family 9 (GH9), called class C; members of which have an atypical carbohydrate binding module (CBM) at the C-terminus. Our lab previously demonstrated that the C-terminal module of a tomato GH9C (Catala & Bennett, 1998) binds to crystalline cellulose, which is the first such example in plants (Urbanowicz et al., 2007). My studies focused on identifying differences in cell wall polysaccharides composition, structure, and morphology between wild type and transgenic Arabidopsis plants with altered expression of GH9C. A more complete understanding of the effects of this modular GH9 enzyme on plant cell wall architecture should help suggesst strategies to generate plants with walls that are more susceptible to bioconversion.