Research in the Winkel Lab focuses on understanding the intracellular organization of metabolism, with the Arabidopsis flavonoid pathway as the experimental model.  Twenty five years of work has revealed a surprising assembly of the core enzymes around chalcone synthase, the entry point into the pathway, and evidence that flux into terminal branches is controlled by competitive enzyme interactions.  Moreover, although the core enzymes are primarily known for their role in flavonoid biosynthesis in the cytoplasm, we have found that chalcone synthase may also participate in epigenetic control of gene expression in the nucleus, providing an alternative explanation for the role of this protein in plant defense.

We have also recently completed an NSF Arabidopsis 2010-funded project with the Helm Lab/MSI at Virginia Tech and the Muday and Fetrow Labs at Wake Forest to develop a systems level understanding of the auxin and ethylene response in seedling roots.  A final paper from this project, comparing dynamic changes in the root metabolome and transcriptome, is in preparation.

In addition, the Winkel Lab had a 22 year-long partnership with the Brewer group in Virginia Tech’s Department of Chemistry on developing novel multimetallic anti-cancer agents.  This work was recognized with a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics in 2010.  Karen Brewer was lost to us in 2014, but her legacy is carried forward by her many students, colleagues, and friends.

nsf1_400x400 Supported by the National Science Foundation for 25 years


Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech