Plant hormones regulate plant growth and their development, controlling many cellular and physiological processes that take place as a seed develops into to a mature plant.  Because these hormones control plant growth, they ultimately also control crop yield. Thus, increasing our understanding of how plant hormones function and interact with each other will result in the creation of tools that allow for improving crop productivity.  In my lab, we seek to understand how a particular plant hormone, called auxin, regulates plant growth and development.  Despite the great importance of auxin in regulating how plants grow and develop, the mechanisms controlling auxin levels, auxin responses, and crosstalk with other hormones are not fully understood.  We take a multidisciplinary approach, including plant physiology, genetics, development, molecular biology, biochemistry, structural biology, and biophysics, to understand mechanisms of auxin regulation.  Our work aims to increase our basic understanding of how auxin impacts plant growth; this understanding will hopefully provide new tools to alter plant growth and development.

The plant hormone auxin sits at the nexus of plant development and environmental responses.  Auxin plays a critical role in integrating environmental cues with developmental events – for example, environment-induced increased production of lateral roots to increase water and nutrient acquisition is dependent on auxin activity.  Despite its immense importance, auxin integration of multiple environmental, developmental, and phytohormone signals is not fully elucidated.  The Strader lab focuses on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying auxin regulation and roles for each of these mechanisms in modulating developmental events and environmental responses.  An overarching question in the lab is: How can a single hormone, auxin, act as an integrator of multiple cues to have the correct growth output at the right time and in the right place.  Clearly, there are mechanisms regulating this pathway that are currently unknown; we hope to fill this gap so that we may understand regulation of auxin activity in the context of each of these distinct cues.