My research interests focus on understanding the biogenesis and functions of the plant vacuole. The vacuole is a large organelle that has diverse roles in maintenance of turgor, storage of proteins, ions and metabolites, and degradation of proteins and other macromolecules. A major research project in my lab involves the study of vacuolar autophagy, a pathway for uptake of proteins into the vacuole for degradation during environmental stress and senescence. Plants defective in this pathway are more sensitive to stress conditions and show premature leaf senescence. A second project is the analysis of the vesicle trafficking pathway delivering newly-synthesized proteins to the vacuole. Both projects involve cell and molecular approaches combined with genetic analyses to determine the function of individual proteins in the respective pathways.