Campbell Hall 371
Research and Teaching Interests: Plant Molecular Biology, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), Pro- and Anti-apoptotic Signaling in Plant Immunity, Plant Hormonal Cross-talk, Service Learning, Sustainability, Instructional Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities
Office Hours: By appointment
- Joint BS/MSc, University of Szczecin, Poland, Biology (Environmental Protection and Laboratory Diagnostics)
- PhD, Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany, Genetics
- Postdoctoral, Duke University, Plant Immunity
Dr. Karolina Mukhtar is a broadly trained molecular plant biologist with over ten years of experience studying various aspects of plant-microbe interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. After obtaining her Biology degree she worked as a teaching assistant for Cell Biology and then became an IMPRS doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute. Her dissertation described the quantitative basis of plant resistance to two deadly phytopathogens. She graduated summa cum laude and was nominated for the Otto Hahn Medal, the highest academic honor for young scientists awarded by the Max-Planck Society.
Subsequently Dr. Mukhtar conducted post-doc research in the laboratory of Dr. Xinnian Dong (a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator) at Duke University, where she studied the molecular basis of plant immunity to a bacterial phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Her projects were focused on transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of plant immunity as well as pathogen-triggered manipulation of plant hormone signaling. This work uncovered the existence of a previously unknown transcriptional growth-to-defense molecular switch in plants; the research resulted in a number of publications in high impact journals including Science, Current Biology, the EMBO Journal, and Genes and Development.
Research in Dr. Mukhtar's lab at UAB focuses on the interface between the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and several of its most devastating pathogens, including fungi and bacteria. At the center of her research program is the Unfolded Protein Response (see her Research Interests below). Dr. Mukhtar is also highly committed to teaching at K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. In 2013, she was named one of the 11 inaugural UAB Faculty Fellows in Service Learning. In addition, she pursues a very active educational outreach program directed to K-12 teachers and students as well as minority students of Miles College funded through her NSF-CAREER award and in the framework of the UAB-CORD and ASIM/AMSTI programs. Dr. Mukhtar is also implementing sustainability in her classroom curricula through her participation in the UAB Red Mountain Project.
Classes taught by Dr. Mukhtar utilize the i>clicker 2 Classroom Response System that helps monitor real-time learning outcomes, and implement the C.R.E.A.T.E. technique (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze the data, Think of the next Experiment) — a novel way to use the real language of science, the journal article, to empower students to think like scientists. All course materials are available online through Canvas.
Dr. Mukhtar puts a special emphasis on development and implementation of instructional strategies for teaching students with various learning disabilities. In Spring 2015, Dr. Mukhtar was named the Outstanding Faculty Mentor by the Office of Disability Support Services.
CV: Download PDF
Plants, while lacking adaptive immunity observed in animals, have instead evolved complex innate immune systems that effectively defend them from versatile potential pathogens. Successful defense against pathogenic microbes requires host’s abilities to mount specific, fine-tuned, and temporally as well as spatially regulated responses to various biotic stresses. The research in my laboratory is focused on molecular mechanisms of cellular stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), an evolutionarily conserved cellular stress response, activates upon accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resulting from biotic/abiotic stresses. Initially UPR transduces signals to reinstate ER homeostasis. However, prolonged or acute ER stress may lead to a transition that initiates programmed cell death. The action of UPR in plants is almost unknown. A long-term goal of my laboratory is to advance our understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of UPR in Arabidopsis as well as its role in defense against diverse pathogens. We are expecting to uncover the differences between the animal and plant UPR responses that make it a unique adaptive process in plant immunity. Our primary objective is to identify how the key ER stress sensor IRE1 kinase/endonuclease is mechanistically involved during plant UPR. We are working on identification of additional regulatory factors required for both the activation and the attenuation of ER-stress response and studying the molecular signal transduction pathways that enable cells to activate the stress-adaptive (pro-survival) or apoptotic (pro-death) signaling pathways under mild or acute ER stress conditions, respectively. This research is supported by a recent $1.1 million NSF-CAREER Faculty Early Career Development grant (IOS‐1350244), one of the most prestigious awards supported by the NSF. You can read more about Dr. Mukhtar’s CAREER award in the UAB Reporter.
Follow the linked course names to see sample syllabi which describe course aims, learning objectives, requirements, and schedules. These are samples only. The instructor may make changes to these syllabi in future courses.
- Plant Biology
- Seminar in Genetics
- OUTPACE (Outreach Plant Pathology Clinic and Education) - an experimental summer learning program consisting of lectures, labs and field trips, taught by Dr. Karolina Mukhtar and sponsored by the NSF-CAREER Award. You can read about our summer OUTPACE program here. If you’re interested in joining our team for a summer research experience, please check out our scientific blog and contact Dr. Mukhtar by phone or email.
Current Lab Personnel:
Download a list of past graduate students.
- Dr. Ahmed Amer (visiting postdoc)
- Dr. Xinran Du (postdoc)
- Brenna Terry (5th Year MS student)
- Marie Vollmer (MS student)
- Dr. Karolina Mukhtar (PI)
- Dr. Camilla Kørner (postdoc)
- Gail Hoffman (undergraduate, Biology Honors)
- Xiaoyu Liu (PhD candidate)
- Maggie McCormack (MS student)
Download a list of past graduate students.
- McCormack ME, Liu X, Jordan MR, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, "A High Throughput Method for Quantifying Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Arabidopsis Seedlings," Frontiers in Plant Science 6 (2015): 663, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00663
- Liu X, Sun Y, Kørner CJ, Du X, Vollmer ME, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, "Bacterial Leaf Infiltration Assay for Fine Characterization of Plant Defense Responses using the Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae Pathosystem," Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) (2015): e53364, doi:10.3791/53364
- Liu X, Merchant A, Rockett KS, McCormack ME, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, "Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana GCN2 kinase roles in seed germination and plant development," Plant Signaling and Behavior 10 (No. 4, 2015): e992264. doi: 10.4161/15592324.2014.992264.
- Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, Emerine DE, Mukhtar MS, "Tell me more: roles of NPRs in plant immunity," Trends in Plant Science 18 (2013): 402-11.
- Boatwright JL, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, "Salicylic acid: an old hormone up to new tricks," Molecular Plant Pathology 14 (2013): 623-34 (hyperlink).
- Moreno A*, Mukhtar MS*, Blanco F, Boatwright JL, Moreno I, Jordan MR, Chen Y, Brandizzi F, Dong X, Orellana A*, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM*, "IRE1/bZIP60-Mediated Unfolded Protein Response Plays Distinct Roles in Plant Immunity and Abiotic Stress Responses," PLoS ONE (2012). *equal contribution
- Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, Wang W, Tada Y, Oka N, Tucker CL, Fonseca JP, Dong X, "The HSF-like Transcription Factor TBF1 Is a Major Molecular Switch for Plant Growth-to-Defense Transition," Current Biology, 22 (2012): 1-10. Evaluations by Faculty of 1000.
- Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM, Dong X, "A Kiss of Death – Proteasome-Mediated Membrane Fusion and Programmed Cell Death in Plant Defense Against Bacterial Infection," Genes & Development 23 (2009): 2449-54.
- Wang D*, Pajerowska-Mukhtar KM*, Culler AH, Dong X, "Salicylic acid inhibits pathogen growth in plants through repression of the auxin signaling pathway," Current Biology 17 (2007): 1784-1790. *- co-first author
- American Phytopathological Society
- American Society of Plant Biologists
- International Society of Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
- UAB Center for Free Radicals Biology
- Phi Sigma
- Alpha Epsilon Delta
- Sigma Xi