Positions

Overview

  • Dr. Karolina Mukhtar is a broadly trained molecular plant biologist with twenty years of experience studying various aspects of plant genetics and stress biology using genetic and biochemical approaches. After obtaining her Biology degree she worked as a teaching assistant for Cell Biology and then became an IMPRS doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute. Her dissertation described the quantitative basis of plant resistance to two deadly phytopathogens. She graduated summa cum laude and was nominated for the Otto Hahn Medal, the highest academic honor for young scientists awarded by the Max-Planck Society.

    Subsequently Dr. Mukhtar conducted post-doc research in the laboratory of Dr. Xinnian Dong (a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator) at Duke University, where she studied the molecular basis of plant immunity to a bacterial phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Her projects were focused on transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of plant immunity as well as pathogen-triggered manipulation of plant hormone signaling. This work uncovered the existence of a previously unknown transcriptional growth-to-defense molecular switch in plants; the research resulted in a number of publications in high impact journals including Science, Current Biology, the EMBO Journal, Genes and Development and Communications Biology.

    Research in Dr. Mukhtar's lab at UAB focuses on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress caused by abiotic and biotic stresses, such as heat and pathogen infection. At the center of her research program is the Unfolded Protein Response, IRE1 ER stress receptors and GCN2-mediated translational regulation (see her Research Interests below). Dr. Mukhtar was awarded the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her study to uncover how plants recognize an important signature of infection – toxic unfolded proteins – and mount appropriate responses with potential in crop improvement, and her deeply involved in outreach, notably a citizen-science based community garden.

    Dr. Mukhtar has been recognized with a number of teaching awards, including the 2019 UAB President's Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2019 CAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2015 Outstanding Faculty Mentor by the Office of Disability Support Services for development and implementation of instructional strategies for teaching students with learning disabilities.

    Dr. Mukhtar is also highly committed to teaching at K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. She has completed UAB Faculty Fellowship in Service Learning, through which she developed a Service Learning CURE summer course in Plant Pathology “OUTPACE”. Dr. Mukhtar is also implementing sustainability in her classroom curricula through her participation in the UAB Red Mountain Project. In addition, she pursues a very active educational outreach program directed to K-12 science teachers as well as minority students from local community colleges, funded through her NSF-CAREER award and in the framework of the UAB-CORD and ASIM/AMSTI programs.

    Dr. Mukhtar is the immediate past Chair of UAB’s Graduate Curriculum Committee and former member of UAB Faculty Senate’s Executive Committee.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2021 A Quantitative Arabidopsis IRE1a Ribonuclease-Dependent in vitro mRNA Cleavage Assay for Functional Studies of Substrate Splicing and Decay ActivitiesFrontiers in Plant Science.  12. 2021
    2021 UPR signaling at the nexus of plant viral, bacterial, and fungal defensesCurrent Opinion in Virology.  47:9-17. 2021
    2021 Toward a Universal Theoretical Framework to Understand Robustness and Resilience: From Cells to Systems 2021
    2021 Dynamic Regulatory Event Mining by iDREM in Large-Scale Multi-omics Datasets During Biotic and Abiotic Stress in PlantsMethods in Molecular Biology.  2328:191-202. 2021
    2020 Probing natural variation of IRE1 expression and endoplasmic reticulum stress responses in Arabidopsis accessionsScientific Reports.  10. 2020
    2020 Multilevel regulation of endoplasmic reticulum stress responses in plants: Where old roads and new paths meetJournal of Experimental Botany.  71:1659-1667. 2020
    2019 Arabidopsis GCN2 kinase contributes to ABA homeostasis and stomatal immunityCommunications Biology.  2. 2019
    2019 Arabidopsis GCN2 kinase contributes to ABA homeostasis and stomatal immunity.Communications Biology.  2:302. 2019
    2018 NPR1 in JazzSet with Pathogen EffectorsTrends in Plant Science.  23:469-472. 2018
    2016 Pathogen Tactics to Manipulate Plant Cell DeathCurrent Biology.  26:R608-R619. 2016
    2015 Endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling in plant immunity—at the crossroad of life and deathInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences.  16:26582-26598. 2015
    2015 Bacterial leaf infiltration assay for fine characterization of plant defense responses using the Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae pathosystemJournal of Visualized Experiments.  2015. 2015
    2015 An improved high-throughput screening assay for tunicamycin sensitivity in arabidopsis seedlingsFrontiers in Plant Science.  6. 2015
    2015 Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana GCN2 kinase roles in seed germination and plant developmentPlant Signaling and Behavior.  10:1-7. 2015
    2015 Salicylic acid signalling: New insights and prospects at a quarter-century milestoneEssays in Biochemistry.  58:101-113. 2015
    2013 Salicylic acid: An old hormone up to new tricksMolecular Plant Pathology.  14:623-634. 2013
    2013 Tell me more: Roles of NPRs in plant immunityTrends in Plant Science.  18:402-411. 2013
    2012 IRE1/bZIP60-mediated unfolded protein response plays distinct roles in plant immunity and abiotic stress responsesPLoS ONE.  7. 2012
    2012 The HSF-like transcription factor TBF1 is a major molecular switch for plant growth-to-defense transitionCurrent Biology.  22:103-112. 2012
    2009 A kiss of death - Proteasome-mediated membrane fusion and programmed cell death in plant defense against bacterial infectionGenes and Development.  23:2449-2454. 2009
    2009 Receptor quality control in the endoplasmic reticulum for plant innate immunity 2009
    2009 Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the Allene Oxide Synthase 2 gene are associated with field resistance to late blight in populations of tetraploid potato cultivars 2009
    2008 Plant immunity requires conformational charges of NPR1 via S-nitrosylation and thioredoxinsScience.  321:952-956. 2008
    2008 Natural variation of potato allene oxide synthase 2 causes differential levels of jasmonates and pathogen resistance in Arabidopsis 2008
    2007 Salicylic Acid Inhibits Pathogen Growth in Plants through Repression of the Auxin Signaling PathwayCurrent Biology.  17:1784-1790. 2007

    Research Overview

  • The sessile lifestyle of plants requires them to cope with multitude of stresses in situ. In response to diverse environmental and intracellular cues, plant cell responds by massive reprograming of transcription and translation of stress response regulators, of which many rely on endoplasmic reticulum (ER) processing. This increased protein synthesis could exceed the capacity of precise protein quality control, leading to the accumulation of unfolded and/or misfolded proteins that triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR). The research in my laboratory is focused on molecular mechanisms of cellular stress responses in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

    Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), an evolutionarily conserved cellular stress response, activates upon accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resulting from biotic/abiotic stresses. Initially UPR transduces signals to reinstate ER homeostasis. However, prolonged or acute ER stress may lead to a transition that initiates programmed cell death. The action of UPR in plants is almost unknown. A long-term goal of my laboratory is to advance our understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of UPR in Arabidopsis as well as its role in defense against diverse abiotic and biotic stress factors. We are expecting to uncover the differences between the animal and plant UPR responses that make it a unique adaptive process in plant stress biology. Our primary objective is to identify how the key ER stress sensor IRE1 kinase/endonuclease is mechanistically involved during plant UPR. We are working on identification of additional regulatory factors required for both the activation and the attenuation of ER-stress response and studying the molecular signal transduction pathways that enable cells to activate the stress-adaptive (pro-survival) or apoptotic (pro-death) signaling pathways under mild or acute ER stress conditions, respectively. Plant stress biology research will have a profound impact on our future ability to solve real-life problems as we face ongoing changes in the climate, ecological imbalances and ever-growing human population. This research is supported by a $1.1 million NSF-CAREER Faculty Early Career Development grant, one of the most prestigious awards supported by the NSF. You can read more about Dr. Mukhtar’s work in the UAB Reporter and the UAB Magazine.
  • Teaching Activities

  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Summer Term 2021) 2021
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Summer Term 2021) 2021
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2021) 2021
  • BY394 - Bio Lab Teach (Spring Term 2021) 2021
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Spring Term 2021) 2021
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Spring Term 2021) 2021
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2021) 2021
  • BY351 - Plant Biology (Fall Term 2020) 2020
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Fall Term 2020) 2020
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Fall Term 2020) 2020
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2020) 2020
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2020) 2020
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Spring Term 2020) 2020
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2020) 2020
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Fall Term 2019) 2019
  • BY451 - Principles of Botany (Fall Term 2019) 2019
  • BY751 - Principles of Botany (Fall Term 2019) 2019
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2019) 2019
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Summer Term 2019) 2019
  • BY450 - Plant Physiology (Summer Term 2019) 2019
  • BY695 - Special Topics in Biology I (Summer Term 2019) 2019
  • BY795 - Special Topics in Biology I (Summer Term 2019) 2019
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Spring Term 2019) 2019
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2019) 2019
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2018) 2018
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Fall Term 2018) 2018
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Fall Term 2018) 2018
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2018) 2018
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2018) 2018
  • BY395 - Special Topics in Biology (Summer Term 2018) 2018
  • BY495 - Special Topics in Biology (Summer Term 2018) 2018
  • BY696 - Special Topics in Biology II (Summer Term 2018) 2018
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY451 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY651 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY751 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2018) 2018
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2017) 2017
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Fall Term 2017) 2017
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Fall Term 2017) 2017
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2017) 2017
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Fall Term 2017) 2017
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2017) 2017
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Summer Term 2017) 2017
  • BY495 - Special Topics in Biology (Summer Term 2017) 2017
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Spring Term 2017) 2017
  • BY451 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2017) 2017
  • BY651 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2017) 2017
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Spring Term 2017) 2017
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2016) 2016
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Fall Term 2016) 2016
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Fall Term 2016) 2016
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Fall Term 2016) 2016
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Fall Term 2016) 2016
  • BY495 - Special Topics in Biology (Summer Term 2016) 2016
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Summer Term 2016) 2016
  • BY699 - Thesis Research (Summer Term 2016) 2016
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Summer Term 2016) 2016
  • BY398 - Undergrad Research - RES (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY451 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY651 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY699 - Thesis Research (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY751 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Spring Term 2016) 2016
  • BY689 - Seminar in Genetics (Fall Term 2015) 2015
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Fall Term 2015) 2015
  • BY789 - Seminar in Genetics (Fall Term 2015) 2015
  • BY799 - Dissertation Research (Fall Term 2015) 2015
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Summer Term 2015) 2015
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2015) 2015
  • BY495 - Special Topics in Biology (Summer Term 2015) 2015
  • BY451 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2015) 2015
  • BY651 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2015) 2015
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Spring Term 2015) 2015
  • BY751 - Plant Biology (Spring Term 2015) 2015
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2015) 2015
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2014) 2014
  • BY698 - Nonthesis Research (Fall Term 2014) 2014
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2014) 2014
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Summer Term 2014) 2014
  • BY210 - Genetics (Summer Term 2014) 2014
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Summer Term 2014) 2014
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Spring Term 2014) 2014
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2013) 2013
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Fall Term 2013) 2013
  • BY798 - Nondissertation Research (Fall Term 2013) 2013
  • BY210 - Genetics (Summer Term 2013) 2013
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Summer Term 2013) 2013
  • BY495 - Special Topics in Biology (Spring Term 2013) 2013
  • BY795 - Special Topics in Biology I (Spring Term 2013) 2013
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2012) 2012
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Fall Term 2012) 2012
  • BY210 - Genetics (Summer Term 2012) 2012
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Summer Term 2012) 2012
  • BY210 - Genetics (Spring Term 2012) 2012
  • BY210 - Genetics (Spring Term 2011) 2011
  • BY501 - Genetics for Teachers (Spring Term 2011) 2011
  • BY210 - Genetics (Fall Term 2010) 2010
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Genetics, 2005
  • Master of Science in Biology, 2002
  • Bachelor of Science or Mathematics in Biology, 2001
  • Full Name

  • Karolina Mukhtar