Blake Meyers, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
Delaware Biotechnology Institute
Delaware Technology Park
15 Innovation Way
Newark, DE 19711
Ph.D., Genetics, University of California Davis, 1998
M.S., Genetics, University of California Davis, 1995
B.A., Biology, University of Chicago, 1992
Dr. Meyers's research focuses on plant genomics. One area of emphasis in recent years has been whole-genome analyses of small RNAs in plants, including the discovery of novel microRNAs and the analysis of heterochromatic siRNAs. Because of the large number of sequenced or partially sequenced plant genomes available, the work of the lab has used a number of different plant species, but with a particular focus on Arabidopsis and rice, with ongoing collaborative projects in maize and Medicago. This work has its origins in a project initiated in 2001 that used the first “next-generation” sequencing technology, known as Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS). At that time, the Meyers lab started to develop novel methods for handling short-read sequencing techniques for mRNA and later (in collaboration with the Green lab, also at DBI) for small RNA analysis. This led to release of data used for genome annotation and analysis via our popular, custom website for these data (http://mpss.udel.edu). In recent years, we have applied these methods to the study of a wide range of specific studies of small RNA biology, and we have adapted our methods to use the latest generation of short-read sequence data. Most recently, we have applied these tools to the study of mRNA decay, to the analysis of small RNAs in diverse plant species, and to the connection between small RNAs and epigenetic changes in plants.
A secondary area of research in the Meyers lab has its origins in our earlier work on the genomics of NBS-LRR-encoding genes in plants. The Nucleotide Binding Site-Leucine Rich Repeat (NBS-LRR) proteins encoded by many resistance genes provide the first line of defense in many specific plant-pathogen interactions. We study sequence variation and function in this class of genes, with the long-term goal of understanding the relationship between sequence, structure and protein function. Of particular interest to the lab are two additional groups of genes that encode Toll-like proteins but lacking the LRR, as these are similar to a class of adapter proteins that signal in animal defense responses.