Scott C. Peck, PhD



Contact Information

Phone 573-882-8102
Address 271H Bond Life Sciences Center
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BA Biology Lawrence University Appleton, Wis.
PhD Botany and Plant Pathology Michigan State University East Lansing, Mich.

Research Areas

Proteomics of protein phosphorylation and protein kinases; signaling and secretion during host-pathogen interactions; proteomics of drought stress responses.

Research description

How Do Plants Recognize and Respond to Bacterial Pathogens?

The perception of and response to microbial signal molecules is a vital strategy evolved by plants to survive attacks by potential pathogens. Substantial evidence exists for the requirement of phosphorylation to initiate a range of defense-related responses. The identity of the phosphorylated proteins and their role in defense, however, remains largely unknown. To uncover new subsets of signaling candidates, my laboratory has developed complementary proteomic approaches to identify proteins undergoing phosphorylation in Arabidopsis within minutes after the application of microbial elicitors. This program has revealed more than 40 novel components associated with defense responses. We are using reverse genetics, biochemistry, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics to understand how these putative signaling proteins affect the plant’s resistance to bacterial pathogens.

A major focus of the lab is characterization of a mutant in MAP Kinase Phosphatase 1 (MKP1). Plants lacking a functional MKP1 have enhanced PAMP responses and enhanced resistance, indicating that MKP1 is a negative regulator of plant defense. Importantly, phenotypes in the mkp1 mutant are suppressed by a second mutation in a specific MAP Kinase, MPK6. We have found that the MKP1-mediated pathway leads to a novel mechanism for plant resistance whereby plants restrict chemical signals required by the bacterial pathogen to activate their virulence programs. Current work in the lab involves understanding how the plant controls the levels of these signals during a defense response.

How Do Plants Continue to Grow with Low Water Availability?

Our lab is also interested in how plants respond to drought and/or decreased water availability. Maize root tips possess the unique ability to maintain growth under water-limiting conditions that stop growth in all other tissues. Biologically, this maintenance makes sense as the roots must seek water at greater depths in order for the plant to survive; but the mechanisms by which this occurs remain largely unknown. We primarily focused on investigating how the plasma membrane (PM) proteome changes in the primary and nodal roots of maize during water stress to gain insights into possible reorganization of transporters and other PM proteins that may play roles in adaptation to drought. A better understanding of root responses that contribute to maintaining growth under low water potential could lead to crops with improved yield under limiting conditions.

Notable Honors and Service

  • CAFNR Distinguished Researcher, 2019
  • Fellow, American Society of Plant Biologists, 2019
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2018

Selected Publications

Jiang L, Chen Y, Luo L, Peck SC. (2018). Central Roles and Regulatory Mechanisms of Dual-Specificity MAPK Phosphatases in Developmental and Stress Signaling. Front Plant Sci. 9:1697. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01697. eCollection 2018. Review. [PubMed]

Jiang L, Anderson JC, Gonzalez Besteiro MA, Peck SC. (2017). Phosphorylation of Arabidopsis MAP Kinase Phosphatase 1 (MKP1) Is Required for PAMP Responses and Resistance against Bacteria. Plant Physiol. 175(4):1839-1852. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01152[PubMed]

Jiang L, Wan Y, Anderson JC, Hou J, Islam SM, Cheng J, Peck SC. (2017). Genetic dissection of Arabidopsis MAP kinase phosphatase 1-dependent PAMP-induced transcriptional responses. J Exp Bot. 68(18):5207-5220. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx335[PubMed]

Voothuluru P, Anderson JC, Sharp RE, Peck SC. (2016). Plasma membrane proteomics in the maize primary root growth zone: novel insights into root growth adaptation to water stress. Plant Cell Environ. 39(9):2043-54. doi: 10.1111/pce.12778[PubMed]

Engineer CB, Ghassemian M, Anderson JC, Peck SC, Hu H, Schroeder JI. (2014). Carbonic anhydrases, EPF2 and a novel protease mediate CO2 control of stomatal development. Nature. 513(7517):246-50. doi: 10.1038/nature13452[PubMed]

Anderson JC, Wan Y, Kim YM, Pasa-Tolic L, Metz TO, Peck SC. (2014). Decreased abundance of type III secretion system-inducing signals in Arabidopsis mkp1 enhances resistance against Pseudomonas syringae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111(18):6846-51. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1403248111[PubMed]

Current Funding

NSF IOS-1456256: “MKP1 regulates plant metabolite signals that induce bacterial virulence: How and where are these signals controlled?”; PI (Co-PI, Tom Metz, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

NSF IOS-1444448: “Physiological genomics of maize nodal root growth under drought”; Co-PI (PI – Bob Sharp, MU)

NSF DBI-1726738: “MRI: Acquisition of a High Resolution Mass Spectrometer/UPLC System”; Co-PI (PI – Michael Greenlief, MU)

NSF MCB-1818312: “Unraveling the early events of the iron deficiency response at cell-specific resolution”; Co-PI (PI – David Mendoza, MU)

NSF IOS-1758843: “Roles of Epsin1-dependent clathrin-coat in plant immunity against bacteria”; Co-PI (PI – Antje Heese, MU)

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