Dr. Gillaspy seeks to understand how plants monitor their energy and adjust their metabolism accordingly.
Dr. Gillaspy's research may play an integral role in helping farmers produce greater yields in their fields and increasing plant biomass utilized for cellulosic ethanol production. She uses functional genomics to examine how inositol signaling proteins work with a protein kinase, called SnRK1 within Arabidopsis plants. Her team has found evidence to suggest SnRK1 behaves as a fuel gage within Arabidopsis plants, helping to monitor when the plant's energy status is low. Dr. Gillaspy's group has discovered that changes in the regulation of SnRK1 results in Arabidopsis plants with increased biomass.
By potentially altering SnRK1, Dr. Gillaspy's team may be able to extend the lifespan of the plant. This extended lifespan will result in more biomass because the plants have more time to grow. This evidence may help farmers produce greater yields, and may be of interest to cellulosic ethanol production companies, which use non-edible parts of plants to produce bio-fuel.