Recorded: 20 Feb 2001
Another area of research that has come out of that same study of stem cell mutants are mutants that are involved—and we were surprised by this—in a thing called RNA-i. RNA interference is a relatively new phenomenon in animals, though it's actually been known in plants for a rather long time. Some of the mutants that we discovered in stem cell function turned out to be genes that controlled RNA interference. RNA interference is an epigenetic mechanism. It is an epigenetic mechanism that influences the genome as a whole and we're now using genome technology, like micro arrays for example, and the genome sequence in Arabidopsis to start to ask questions about how it has the impact that it does on development.
Rob Martienssen is a plant molecular geneticist and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1986 and did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a young scientist, he worked closely with Barbara McClintock. He currently studies plant epigenetics and development using functional genomics. He was awarded the Kumho International Science Award in Plant Biology and Biotechnology (2001).