Barbara Moffatt is intrigued by how gene expression and enzyme activities are regulated to meet the metabolic needs of plant growth and development. Her research involves genetics, metabolite profiling, enzyme assays, morphological analyses, and reporter gene studies, as well as immunodetection of protein levels and protein-protein interaction assays.
Professor Moffat leads several projects, including studies of key enzymes and plant growth regulators that underlie plant development, as well as how certain mutant genes in plants express themselves.
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- Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology
- Molecular Genetics
Professor Moffatt started working on adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (APT) when she was a postdoctoral fellow and found that loss of the predominant isoform, APT1, made plants male sterile. Recently Professor Moffatt has returned to looking at this enzyme activity because of the identification of fertile APT1-deficient mutant. Analysis of this mutant has led to our current studies of the dual transcripts arising from the APT1 locus. The two APT products reside in different compartments but the functional significance of this targeting is under investigation. Understanding APT1’s role in plant physiology is particularly intriguing because the fertile APT1 mutant line is more stress tolerant than wild-type plants.
Professor Moffatt and her research group have been looking at the roles of adenosine kinase (ADK) in plants for several years. The generation and analysis of lines deficient in ADK activity has revealed that this enzyme plays a critical role in maintaining methylation activities in plants and its expression is regulated in association with cellular methylation requirements. ADK deficiency also impacts cytokinin metabolism. Studies of ADK led us to look at related enzymes associated with methylation, particularly their subcellular localization and protein-protein interactions.
One of her team's recent projects is focused on mutants deficient in methylthioadenosine (MTA) nucleosidase activity. The most deficient mutant is multiple problems including male and female sterility, abnormal vascular development, reduced auxin transport and lower nicotianamine content. Their results indicate that this phenotype is due to MTA feedback inhibition of several key enzyme activities including those that catalyze the synthesis of polyamines and nicotianamine. Interestingly, polyamine supplementation affects the phenotype of these mutants.
To understand the involvement of these enzymes and metabolites in plant development we analyze mutants in the corresponding genes using genetics, metabolite profiling, enzyme assays, morphological analyses, and reporter gene studies. Immunodetection of protein levels and protein-protein interaction assays are also involved.
Professor Moffatt is also collaborating on a transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis of a naturally stress tolerant plant, Eutrema salsuginea, along with Drs. E. Weretilinyk. G. Gray, R. Cameron and B. Golding (McMaster University).
Funding is available to support a motivated graduate student’s participation in this research. Interested students are welcome to contact Dr. Moffatt by email for further information.
Professor Moffatt teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included
- BIOL 309 Analytical Methods in Molecular Biology
- BIOL 335L Molecular Biology Techniques
- BIOL 428 Plant Molecular Genetics
- BIOL 690 Scientific Communication
Recent publications include
- Lim ZL, Low NH, Moffatt BA, Gray G. 2013. Gelation in protein extracts from cold acclimated and non-acclimated winter rye (Secale cereale L. cv Musketeer). Cryobiology 66: 156-166.
- Van de Poel B, Bulens I, Oppermann Y, Hertog MLATM, Moffatt BA, Nicolaï BM, Sauter M, Geeraerd AH (2013) Evaluation of the manifold usage of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) during climacteric ripening of tomato in relation to ethylene and polyamine biosynthesis and transmethylation capacity. Physiologia Plantarum 148: 176-188.
- Sauter M, Moffatt BA, Saechao MC, Hell R, Wirtz M. 2013. Methionine salvage and S-adenosylmethionine rationing: essential links between sulfur, ethylene and polyamine biosynthesis. Biochemical Journal 451: 145-154.
- SukrongS, YunK-Y, StadlerP, FeldmanG, KumarC, FacciuoloT, MoffattBA and Falcone DL 2012 Improved growth and stress tolerance in the Arabidopsis oxt1 mutant triggered by altered adenine metabolism. Molecular Plant 5: 1310-1332.
- Rahman LN, McKay F, Giuliani M, Quirk A, Moffatt BA, Harauz G, Dutcher JR.2012. Interactions of Thellungiella salsuginea dehydrins TsDHN-1 and TsDHN-2 with membranes at cold and ambient temperatures -Surface morphology and single-molecule force measurements show phase separation, and reveal tertiary and quaternary. doi: 0.1016/j.bbamem.2012.11.031
- Cloning and expression of the gene for bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase. 1990. Inventors: F.W. Studier, P. Davanloo, A.H. Rosenberg, B.A. Moffatt and J.J. Dunn, U.S. Patent No. 4,952,496.
- Cloning and expression of the gene for T7 RNA polymerase. 1997. Inventors: F.W. Studier, P. Davanloo, A.H. Rosenberg, B.A. Moffatt and J.J. Dunn. US Patent No. 5,693,489.
- Cloning and expression of the gene for T7 RNA polymerase. 1999. Inventors: F.W. Studier, P. Davanloo, A.H. Rosenberg, B.A. Moffatt and J.J. Dunn. US Patent No. 5,869,320.
- Gene for APRT from plant tissue. 1992. Serial No. 9111126.0. Inventor: B.A. Moffatt.
Awards and Distinctions
- 2012 Outstanding Performance Award
- 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award – Department of Biology
- 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award – University of Waterloo
- 2006 Outstanding Performance Award
- 1994 Prix Georges Morel
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Professional Associations and Service
- Independent Studies Program, Board Member
- UW Safety Committee, Member
- Science Undergraduate Council, Biology representative
- Associate Dean of Science, Student Relations
- Recruitment Committee Steering Committee
- Biology Co-op Report Marking Committee
1985 PhD University of Toronto
1978 BSc University of Guelph