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Dr. McCourt is developing genomic screening technologies to identify genes that regulate plant hormone signal transduction in Arabidopsis.
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Dr. McCourt is developing genomic screening technologies to identify genes that regulate plant hormone signal transduction in Arabidopsis.
EXPLORE >   Researchers >  Peter McCourt
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Dr. Peter McCourt and his research team have embarked on a program to develop unique genetic and genomic screening technologies in order to identify genes that regulate plant hormone signal transduction in Arabidopsis. In plants, hormones influence many diverse developmental processes ranging from seed germination to root, shoot and flower formation. The research is focused on studing the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) in Arabidopsis as a model to understanding hormone signaling in plants. Mutations that alter the signal transduction of this plant growth regulator, ABA, should be viable. Most screens that alter the response of Arabidopsis to ABA can be performed at the level of germination on petri plates. Thus, large numbers of mutagenized seed can be screened with relative ease under conditions where hormone concentrations can be precisely controlled. Although the team is primarily interested in ABA they found that many of the genetic screens identify mutations that affect other hormone signaling pathways including gibberellin (GA) and ethylene. One of the outcomes of Dr. McCourt’s research program is to determine how to mutate these genes to enhance growth in other plants and crop species thereby improving crop quality and production and the development of plant biotechnologies. His research has lead to commercialization of some of these technologies through a partnership with Performance Plants Inc. The technology involves inhibitors of naturally-occurring farnesyl transferase which are used to enhance drought tolerance in the plants, improve resistance to senescence and modify growth habit. In 2009, Dr. McCourt and a team of researchers from Canada, the United States and Spain used a novel approach called chemical genomics to identify a synthetic chemical, designated pyrabactin, which specifically activates an ABA receptor in Arabidopsis. With pyrabactin in hand it was possible to directly identify the ABA receptor.
Researcher Information
Full Professor
Department of Cell and Systems Biology
25 Willcocks Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5S 3B2
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Biography
Dr. McCourt holds the Canada Research Chair in Plant Molecular Biology since 2003. He is an integral member of the University of Toronto’s Arabidopsis Research Group (ARG). Dr. McCourt completed his PhD at the Michigan State University in 1986.
Researcher Information
Full Professor
Department of Cell and Systems Biology
25 Willcocks Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5S 3B2


Key Publications
Park, SY, Fung, P, Nishimura, N, Jensen, D, Fujii, H, Zhao, Y, Lumba, S, Santiago, J, Rodrigues, A, Chow, T, Alfred, S, Bonetta, D, Finkelstein, R, Provart, N, Desveaux, D, Rodriguez, P, McCourt, P, Zhu, JK, Schroeder, JI, Volkman, B, Cutler, S.  Abscisic Acid Inhibits Type 2C Protein Phosphatases via the PYR/PYL Family of START Proteins. Science 2009; 324, 1068-1071.
Yamagishi K, Tatematsu K, Yano R, Preston J, Kitamura S, Takahashi H, McCourt P, Kamiya Y, Nambara E. CHOTTO1, a double AP2 domain protein of Arabidopsis thaliana, regulates germination and seedling growth under excess supply of glucose and nitrate. Plant Cell Physiol. 2009 Feb;50(2):330-40.
Northey J, McCourt P. Using reverse genetics to develop small knockout collections for specific biological questions. Methods Mol Biol. 2009;495:1-10.
McCourt P, Creelman R. The ABA receptors -- we report you decide. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Oct;11(5):474-8.
Goritschnig S, Weihmann T, Zhang Y, Fobert P, McCourt P, Li X. A novel role for protein farnesylation in plant innate immunity. Plant Physiol. 2008 Sep;148(1):348-57.
Researcher Information
Full Professor
Department of Cell and Systems Biology
25 Willcocks Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5S 3B2


Intellectual Property

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CATEGORIES
Application Area
Agriculture, Bioproducts and biomaterials, Instrumentation and tools
Disciplinary Focus
Experimental biology and chemistry, Mathematics and engineering
Research Paradigm
Focused-scope projects, Large-scale projects, Technology development
Organism
Plant
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