Center for Plant Cell Biology


Jason StajichJason Stajich

Associate Professor of Bioinformatics

Mailing Address:

Plant Pathology and Microbiology
Plant Pathology and Microbiology
Genomics /1207K
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521

Phone: (951) 827-2363
Fax: (951) 827-5515
Email: jason.stajich@ucr.edu



PhD 2006 Duke University
BS 1999 Duke University

College/Division Affiliation:

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Center/Inst Affiliation(s):

Center for Plant Cell Biology
Center for Disease Vector Research

Areas Of Expertise:

Bioinformatics; Genomics; Mycology; Evolutionary & Population Biology; Molecular Evolution

Awards / Honors:

2006-09  Miller Institute Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley
2003-06 National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

Research Summary:

Fungal cell wall evolution
The cell wall defines the interface an organism's biotic and abiotic interactions with its environment. The cell wall in Fungi evolved differently from their sister group Metazoa, which lack a cell wall, and typically contain chitin and beta-glucan. We are interested in the set of genes that are required to synthesize, maintain, and remodel the cell wall as part of growth, response to stress, and developmental programs. We are working to study how these genes evolved across the fungal kingdom to learn when and how some innovations of cellular forms evolved and how this relates to evolutionary history of other organisms.

Early diverging Chytrid and Zygomycete fungi
The early diverging Chytridiomycota and paraphyletic Zygomycota are groups of fungi with rich diversity of morphology and lifestyles. I am working to connect classic work on detailed morphological studies with molecular and genomic tools studying aspects of cellular division, cell wall biosynthesis, and sexual and asexual forms. I am interested in particular in how the cell walls differ among these fungi and evolved from aquatic to terrestrial fungi. Some lineages evolved as mycoparasitic (e.g. Rozella), as pathogens of animals (e.g. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Rhizopus oryzae), or of plants (e.g. Synchytrium endobioticum) and we will use genome sequencing and comparative genomics to catalog differences and similarities among pathogenic lineages.

Early diverging fungi also still share some characteristics retained in the Metazoa, that were lost subsequently in the Dikarya (Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes) making these early diverging lineages good models for some studies of animal processes. Some of these common traits include aspects of cellular division and the presence of a flagella. We are working to characterize additional developmental and signaling pathways that may make this group of fungi important model systems for cellular biology research.

Post-transcriptional gene regulation
A collection of cellular processes control gene expression. The role of small RNAs in the control of gene expression in fungi remains an area of exploration. We are working with Neurospora crassa and Coprinopsis cinerea to learn how smallRNAs may regulate gene expression during development and control expression of other genomic elements.

Evolution of multicellularity in Fungi
The evolution of multicellular structures in fungi is the result of many changes in cell wall structure and growth, gene regulation, and related changes that started with a single-cell ancestor and give rise to the multitude of forms of fungi as molds, mushrooms, smuts, rusts, lichens, and yeasts. We hope to unravel the evolutionary process in more detail exploring the lineage-specific pathways, new aspects of gene regulation and signaling, and evolutionary changes in cell wall biosynthesis and maintence that will help delineate what is required to form multicellular structures in the extant fungi.

Methods in comparative and evolutionary genomics
The interpretation of genome sequences to answer questions of evolution requires methods to manipulate, organize, and query the data. We are developing databases for incorporation of genome sequence, functional, and comparative data to address questions of comparative biology among fungi.

Human pathogenic fungi
A small fraction of the total known fungi are harmful to human health, but I am interested in the evolutionary pressures and changes that allowed a few (e.g. Coccidioides, Histoplasma capsulatum, Cryptococcus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida, Rhizopus oryzae, Penicllium marneffei) to be successful primary or opportunistic human pathogens. We have used comparative genomics to explore these questions (Sharpton et al, 2009) and additional work contrasting pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi at the functional level and in understanding the ecology of their natural host reservoirs will teach us about the formation of pathogens.

Related Press Releases:

Selected Publications:

List of publications from HubMed

Lab Personnel:

Abramyan, John
Postgraduate Researcher —
Sain, Divya
Graduate Student Researcher —
Wang, Zizhou
Graduate Student Researcher —
Zhou, Yi "Zoe"
Graduate Student Researcher —

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Center Information

Center for Plant Cell Biology
Botany & Plant Sciences Department
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
Fax: (951) 827-5155
E-mail: genomics@ucr.edu