Markita Landry receives New Innovator in Food and Agriculture award

December 6, 2017

Plant transformations using nanomaterials

DNA, RNA, and protein can be carried into plant cells with carbon nanotubes to genetically transform plants to express or contain fluorescent proteins.

Berkeley, CA

Markita Landry, UC Berkeley assistant professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is a recipient of the second annual New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award for plant efficiency to study GMO-free gene editing. 

This early career grant is provided to outstanding food and agriculture research faculty and is a program of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research  (FFAR), a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support Dr. Landry’s research as part of our work to catalyze innovation and foster a strong scientific workforce for the future,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. “I look forward to seeing the impact of the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award not only on Dr. Landry’s career, but also on advancing agriculture."

As part of the award, Dr. Landry will participate in a scientific communications workshop in Washington during December 2017. New Innovator awardees will have the opportunity to discuss their work with members of Congress and their staffs while they are at the workshop.  

“Agricultural biology is at the crux of sustainability for a growing population and rapidly changing global climate. Implementing tools to transform agricultural practices are needed to meet growing food and energy needs,” stated Dr. Landry. “Our research into nanomaterials will focus on modernizing gene editing in plants to enable discoveries that will enhance the production of robust crops.”

Currently a major challenge facing efficient plant genetic transformation is in delivering biomolecules through the rigid, multi-layered cell wall of plants. Dr. Landry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering graduate student Gozde Demirer are developing synthetic nanomaterials for targeted delivery of biological cargoes. This award will help further their research in this area. A recently published preprint article, "Nanoparticle-Guided Biomolecule Delivery for Transgene Expression and Gene Silencing in Mature Plants", discusses some of their research findings.

Dr. Landry is also the recent recipient of early career awards from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. She is a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator, a Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub investigator, and a research member of the Innovative Genomics Institute.

More information about her award can be found at the Innovative Genomics website and at the UC Berkeley newsroom.