Jake Brunkard

Position title: Assistant Professor

Email: brunkard@wisc.edu

Plant Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Genomics

425 Henry Mall, room 3360
Lab Address
425 Henry Mall, room 3106
History and Biology, B.A. with High Honors, Swarthmore College; Plant Biology, Ph.D., UC Berkeley
Research Interests
My lab investigates the evolution and regulation of metabolism in plants at molecular, cellular, physiological, and genomic scales, focusing on the TARGET OF RAPAMYCIN (TOR) signaling network.

Research Description:

Functional genomics and molecular biology of TOR signaling in plants:

TOR is a broadly conserved protein kinase that coordinates metabolism with nutrient and energy availability.  When life’s “building blocks” are available (e.g., amino acids, nucleotides, ATP), TOR promotes cell growth, cell division, and anabolic processes.  When nutrients are limiting or cells experience stress, TOR activity decreases, limiting anabolism and permitting catabolic processes, such as autophagy.  TOR signaling is under intense investigation among biomedical researchers because dysregulation of the TOR network causes or contributes to a wide range of diseases, including cancers and age-related disorders.  Much less is known about the TOR signaling pathway outside of biomedical model systems.

Our  lab is investigating TOR signaling in diverse plant model species, including Arabidopsis, tomato, Nicotiana benthamiana, and maize, to understand how TOR networks have evolved in eukaryotes.  Long-term, we aim to harness TOR signaling pathways to improve agricultural crop resilience and yields while reducing reliance on costly, unsustainable fertilizers.

Select Publications:

Brunkard JO* (2020) Exaptive evolution of TARGET OF RAPAMYCIN signaling in multicellular eukaryotes, Dev Cell 54(2):142-155.

Brunkard JO*, Xu M, Scarpin MR, Chatterjee SC, Runkel AM, Shemyakina EA, Goodman HM, Zambryski PC (2020) TOR dynamically regulates plant cell-cell transport, PNAS 117(9):5049-5058.

Scarpin MR, Leiboff S, Brunkard JO (2020) Parallel global profiling of plant TOR dynamics reveals a conserved role for LARP1 in mRNA translation, bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2020.01.30.927418.

Busche M, Scarpin MR, Hnasko R, Brunkard JO (2020) TOR coordinates nucleotide availability with ribosome biogenesis in plants, bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2020.05.13.094508.

Brunkard JO*, Zambryski PC, (2019) Plasmodesmatal transport is regulated by light and the circadian clock, Plant Physiol 181(4):1459-67, doi:10.1104/pp.19.00460.

Anderson AA, St. Aubin B, Abraham-Juárez MJ, Leiboff S, Shen Z, Briggs S, Brunkard JO, Hake S, (2019) The second site modifier, Sympathy for the ligule, encodes a homolog of Arabidopsis ENHANCED DISEASE RESISTANCE4 and rescues the liguleless narrow maize mutant.  The Plant Cell, doi:10.1105/tpc.18.00840.

Brunkard JO*, Baker B, (2018) A two-headed monster to avert disaster: HBS1/SKI7 is alternatively spliced to build eukaryotic RNA surveillance complexes.  Frontiers Plant Sci 11 Sep 2018.

Brunkard JO*, Burch-Smith TM, (2018) Ties that bind: the integration of plastid signaling pathways in plant cell metabolism. Essays Biochem 62(1):95-107.

Brunkard JO, Zambryski PC (2017) Plasmodesmata enable multicellularity: new insights into their evolution, biogenesis, and functions in development and immunity. Curr Opin Plant Biol 35:76-83.

Brunkard JO, Runkel AM, Zambryski PC (2016) Visualizing stromule frequency with fluorescence microscopy.  J Vis Exp 117.

Brunkard JO, Runkel AM, Zambryski PC (2015) Chloroplasts extend stromules independently and in response to internal redox signals.  PNAS 112(32):10044-9.

Brunkard JO, Runkel AM, Zambryski PC (2015) The cytosol must flow: intercellular transport through plasmodesmata. Curr Opin Cell Biol 35:13-20.

Brunkard JO, Runkel AM, Zambryski PC (2015) Comment on “A promiscuous intermediate underlies the evolution of LEAFY DNA binding specificity.”  Science 347(6222):621.

Brunkard JO, Burch-Smith TM, Runkel AM, Zambryski P (2015) Investigating plasmodesmata genetics with virus-induced gene silencing and an Agrobacterium-mediated GFP movement assay. Meth Mol Biol 1217:185-198.

Brunkard JO, Runkel AM, Zambryski PC (2013) Plasmodesmata dynamics are coordinated by intracellular signaling pathways.  Curr Opin Plant Biol 16(5):614-20.

Li F, Pignatta D, Bendix C, Brunkard JO, Cohn MM, Tung J, Sun H, Kumar P, Baker B (2012) MicroRNA regulation of plant innate immune receptors. PNAS 109(5):1790-5.

Stonebloom S, Brunkard JO, Cheung AC, Jiang K, Feldman L, Zambryski PC (2012) Redox states of plastids and mitochondria differentially regulate intercellular transport via plasmodesmata.  Plant Physiology 158(1):190-9.

Burch-Smith TM, Brunkard JO, Choi YG, Zambryski PC (2011) Organelle-nucleus cross-talk regulates plant intercellular transport via plasmodesmata. PNAS 108(51):E1451-60.