UAB professor receives $800,000 grant for plant research

Shahid Mukhtar was awarded a grant for his latest research with plant systems biology to better understand how pathogens cause plant disease.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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muktar studentsAssistant Professor Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D., work with students in his lab.Shahid Mukhtar, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been selected to receive a three-year $800,000 grant for his research from the National Science Foundation.

The grant, Symbiosis, Defense and Self-Recognition Cluster, is awarded to scientists to support research on how plants, microbes, fungi and viruses recognize each other and identify pathogens.

Mukhtar’s study targets the understanding on how pathogens change a plant’s cellular metabolism to acquire nutrients they need for growth. Using techniques from both biology and computer sciences, his focal point will be to construct a map of transcription that leads to protein synthesis and elucidate how pathogens alter the flow of biological information.

Mukhtar hopes this research will help scientists gain more knowledge about how pathogens can affect disease in plants.

With this research, students at UAB will gain experience in bioinformatics, a field that develops software to understand biological data. Efforts from this research will expose urban school teachers in Mukhtar’s BioTeach program to genetic innovations and seek to engage students from nearby historically black colleges and universities.

The National Science Foundation is an independent agency that promotes the progress of science and national health. The NSF is the funding source for 24 percent of all federally supported research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.