This was my first publication, an ecological study, on Typha, from work I did when I was nineteen and an undergraduate. Dr. James Seago was one of my most profound Mentors and most significant botanical influences.
1981. The relationship of air space formation and calcium oxalate crystal development in young leaves of Typha angustifolia L. (Typhaceae). Not publicly available. Citation provided.
Dr. Harry “Jack” Horner, my Ph.D. Advisor and Major Professor, would be another of my most profound Mentors and most significant botanical influences, he gave me the gifts of microscopy and seeing.
1985. The structure and expression of nuclear genes encoding polypeptides of the photosynthetic apparatus. Not publicly available. Citation provided.
Dr. Anthony “Tony” Cashmore, my Postdoctoral Advisor at The Rockefeller University, would be the third of the triad of my most profound Mentors.
This work resulted in several landmark publications and four international patents. This technology is now utilized in all commercial varieties of Round-up Ready plants, and many other chloroplast traits in biotechnology crops including maize, soybean, cotton, rice, sorghum and wheat.
Plant researchers have commented that “he did not make the first transgenic plant…but he probably made the fifth…” Dr. Kausch did his postdoctoral work in collaboration with Dr. Marc van Montague’s laboratory in Ghent, Belgium, where they conducted seminal research on plant transformation and chloroplast protein targeting in genetically engineered plants.
We made the first fertile GMO Corn in 1990. Globally now, genetically engineered corn is now a multibillion-dollar crop annually. Despite controversy, there has not been a single substantiated health consequence to GMO crops in three decades, and some say, ‘best invention since the plow’.
Dr. Kausch was a pioneer in biological magnetic separation and nanotechnology. He developed functionalized ferric oxide nanoparticles and demonstrated isolation of DNA, RNA, proteins, organelles, (plastids, mitochondria nuclei and chromosomes in mice). This technology became the basis of large-scale DNA isolation making high throughput DNA sequencing and genomics possible. Paramagnetic beads have been now widely used in biomedical and drug delivery applications. See also 1993 Isolation of biological materials using magnetic particles. US Patent Number 5,508,164.
One of the first pioneering papers using magnetic nanoparticle separation of DNA using a triple helix forming sequence.
The first cloning and analysis of the maize C4 phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase gene (PPCZm1); a key protein in carbon fixation. The developmental, cell-specific, light and metabolic regulation of the homologous C4 PPCZm1 promoter in stable transgenic maize plants was detailed. This promoter has since been used in many basic applied projects.
Site Specific recombination technologies in plants, including Cre/lox and FLP/FRT have been versatile genetic tools used for hybrid plant systems development, inducible gene excision and gene confinement strategies. This paper demonstrated site specific recombination in rice mediated by FLP.
Perception of gravity by plants has remained mysterious since Darwin was one of the first to document roots show positive gravitropism and stems show negative gravitropism. This paper used positional cloning to identify the lazy plant1 gene.
In this paper we developed an innovative technology for recovery of wide cross hybrid. These results demonstrate a widely applicable breeding strategy that makes use of transgenic selectable resistance to identify the selectable marker in the F1BC1 and recover true non-GMO hybrids source materials. This strategy could be widely applied, especially in vegetable crop and CEA breeding of novel hybrids.
In this paper we developed an innovative technology for recovery of wide cross hybrid. Sex determination in maize is the basis for most hybrid plant systems. The sk1 gene was identified (somewhat painfully), cloned, and found to encode a previously uncharacterized family 1 uridine diphosphate glycosyltransferase that localized to the plant peroxisomes. Constitutive expression of a sk1 transgene protected all pistils in the plant, causing complete feminization, a gain-of-function phenotype that operates by blocking the accumulation of jasmonates.
This seminal paper was the result of an NSF sponsored Workshop convening a Who’s who in plant transformation biology which resulted in a White Paper to Congress which resulted in increased funding to the field of plant transformation.
In 2016, Keith Lowe. Bill Gordon-Kamm and The Corteva Group published the breakthrough technology using morphogenic regulator genes Baby Boom and Wuschel to induce somatic embryogenesis. Our paper was the first from an academic lab to reproduce and extend those results by transformation of the recalcitrant inbred B73, which is the also the maize reference genome. These results are now the basis for CRISPR/CAS genome editing in maize and sorghum.
The title expresses the optimism of this Review paper predicting the future of advanced breeding. Genomics, genome editing, and plant transformation biology are therefore an interdependent triad of technologies. Given advances in genomics and genome editing, the need to improve plant transformation technologies was identified as an obvious bottleneck for analysis of functional genomics.
It was one of the pleasures of my career to work with these folks on this paper. Our goal of this Review Paper was to create the seminal go to review of this topic from the history to the future. When I first sent the set of illustration, late one night, one of the co-authors wrote, “these are fantastic-what software did you use?” My own. I answered.
This Review covers the intertwined involvement of maize tissue culture and the centrality of somatic embryogenesis to successful transformation and genome editing of maize. These principles are general to the Gramineae and widely applied across the cereal species. Draw your attention to Figure 2. Comparative developmental morphology of embryogenesis in maize, which I think explains everything.
That the illustrations for this paper were recognized as the COVER for the Special Issue has been one of the most gratifying recent events in my career. COVER ILLUSTRATION, A. Kausch© In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant Springer. See Cover and Original Illustration Below.