Jesse Woodson

Associate Professor - School of Plant Sciences
520-621-3970

Educational Background

  • Post-doc, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.A., Earlham College, Richmond, IN

Research Interests

  • Research in my lab will focus on a fundamental question in biology; how do plants sense their environment and adapt? Because they are sessile, plants must use a wide range of sophisticated environmental signaling mechanisms to minimize stress so that they can thrive. Like other eukaryotes, plants can use their energy-producing organelles (i.e. mitochondria and chloroplasts) as such sensors. In response to a changing environment or stress, these organelles can emit ‘retrograde’ signals that alter gene expression and/or cell physiology. This kind of signaling is important in plants, fungi, and animals and impacts diverse cellular functions including photosynthesis, energy production/storage, stress responses, growth, cell death, ageing, and tumor progression. Although many retrograde signaling pathways are known to exist in plants and other organisms, the mechanisms they use are poorly understood.
  • I am particularly interested in understanding a newly discovered stress signaling pathway that allows plant cells to selectively degrade damaged chloroplasts. In response to light-induced reactive oxygen species, we have shown that chloroplast proteins can be modified by ubiquitination. This may “mark” a damaged chloroplast for recycling, which allows a cell to maintain a healthy population of photosynthetically active chloroplasts. By using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry, we are identifying the genes and proteins involved in this chloroplast quality control pathway. Then by working backwards, we can begin to understand how these signaling factors are used by different plants under stress conditions such as drought or extreme light and temperatures. It is our hope that by understanding this and other retrograde signaling pathways, there is great potential to be able to engineer crops with stress-tolerant chloroplasts and photosynthetic systems thereby improving crop quality and yield.

Selected Publications

Jesse D. Woodson 2016. Chloroplast quality control – Balancing energy production and stress. New Phytologist. 212:36-41.
Jesse D. Woodson, M. S. Joens, A. B. Sinson, J. Gilkerson, P. A. Salome, D. Weigel, J. A. Fitzpatrick, and J. Chory. 2015. Ubiquitin facilitates a quality control pathway that removes damaged chloroplasts. Science. 350:450-4.
Jesse D. Woodson, J. M. Perez-Ruiz, R. J. Schmitz, J. R. Ecker, and J. Chory. 2013. Sigma factor mediated plastid retrograde signals control nuclear gene expression. Plant J. 73:1-13.
Jesse D. Woodson, J. M. Perez-Ruiz, and J. Chory. 2011. Heme synthesis by plastid ferrochelatase I regulates nuclear gene expression in plants. Curr. Biol. 21:897-903.
Jesse D. Woodson and J. Chory. 2008. Coordination of gene expression between organellar and nuclear genomes. Nat. Rev. Gen. 9:383-95.
M. M. Otte, Jesse D. Woodson, and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2007. The thiamine kinase (YcfN) enzyme plays a minor but significant role in cobinamide salvaging in Salmonella enterica. J. Bacteriol. 189:7310-5.
Jesse D. Woodson and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2006. The cbiS Gene of the archaeon Methanopyrus kandleri encodes a bifunctional enzyme with adenosylcobinamide amidohydrolase and a-ribazole-phosphate phosphatase activities. J. Bacteriol. 188:4227-35.
C. L. Zayas, Jesse D. Woodson, and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2006. The cobZ gene of Methanosarcina mazei Gö1 encodes the non-orthologous replacement of the a-ribazole-5’ phosphate phosphatase (CobC) enzyme of Salmonella enterica. J. Bacteriol. 188:2740-3.
Jesse D. Woodson, A. A. Reynolds, and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2005. ABC transporter for corrinoids in Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1. J. Bacteriol. 187:5901-9.
Jesse D. Woodson and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2004. CbiZ, an Amidohydrolase Enzyme Required for Salvaging the Coenzyme B12 Precursor Cobinamide in Archaea. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 101:3591-6
Jesse D. Woodson, C. L. Zayas, and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2003. A New Pathway for Salvaging the Coenzyme B12 Precursor Cobinamide in Archaea Requires Cobinamide- Phosphate Synthase (CbiB) Enzyme Activity. J. Bacteriol. 185:7193-201.
Jesse D. Woodson, R. F. Peck, M. P. Krebs, and J. C. Escalante-Semerena. 2003. The cobY Gene of the Archaeon Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 is Required for De Novo Cobamide Synthesis. J. Bacteriol. 185:311-316.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • PLS/MCB 360 - Plant Growth and Physiology

Research Areas

  • Biochemistry and Physiology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Environmental and Stress Biology