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Dr. Patti Erickson's Lab
Dept. of Biological Sciences

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Patti T. Erickson, PhD
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Henson Hall 214
Salisbury University
Salisbury, MD 21801



I work with the molecular genetic model organisms Arabidopsis thaliana and Caenorhabditis elegans, investigating responses, including epigenetic changes, to oxidative stress. 

Many of my laboratory research projects involve the polyphenolic compoud, nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), which is produced by the long-lived, desert ‘creosote bush’ Larrea tridentata.  NDGA is a lipid-soluble compound with anti-oxidant properties and has been reported to act as an inhibitor of inflammation, viral replication, bacterial growth, cancer progression, and lipoxygenase enzyme activity.  The role of NDGA in Larrea is unknown, although it is found both throughout the plant and its secretions, and it can constitute up to 15% dry weight in leaves.  Being a slow-growing plant with a large, uncharacterized genome, it is challenging to study the role of NDGA in Larrea using molecular and genetic approaches.  My research uses the fast-growing, genetically tractable plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which lacks NDGA, as a model system to study NDGA function. 

Two proposed functions of NDGA include protection from environmental stresses, like temperature and/or ultra-violet B (UVB) light, and germination inhibition of other plants that might compete with Larrea for limited resources leaves.  We're characterizing the effect of NDGA on germination and screening mutagenized Arabidopsis seeds for those resistant to its effects. 

Our C.elegans projects involve RNA interference (RNAi) to knock down target genes and assay for altered oxidative stress responses using green fluorescent protein (GFP) promoter fusions.