Dr. Kevin Begcy / Assistant Professor / Plant Biochemistry and Physiology
Dr. Begcy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida. Dr. Begcy received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. His research group focuses on understanding plant developmental responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. He uses molecular, biochemical, physiological and genomics/computational tools to elucidate mechanisms used by plants to improve resilience under detrimental conditions. His overall research goal is to elucidate novel pathways and mechanisms that could be used to improve crop performance under unfavorable environmental conditions.
Breeding and Genetics
Plants in their natural environment are recurrently exposed to stresses of different origins. Dr. Begcy’s research program focuses on elucidating molecular responses to develop new strategies for crops to overcome environmental stresses.
Major Research Projects
Molecular mechanisms of stress tolerance.Environmental stresses are major concerns in modern agriculture. Recurrent stress events are main limitations for crop productivity resulting in significant yield losses annually. With extreme events occurring with increased frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity, there is a critical need for developing crops that are more adapted to variable climates and conditions. Plants display a variety of molecular, physiological and biochemical responses to survive under stressful conditions. Our long-term goal is to elucidate novel signaling mechanisms used by plants to survive under environmental perturbations and use them for improving plant performance.
Female and male gametophyte development.Before fertilization is executed in cereals, mechanical movement, wind or animals deposit pollen grains at papillae hairs of feathery stigmata. Pollen grains adhere, hydrate, germinate and their tubes penetrate hairs to grow towards the transmitting tract. Inside the tract they grow towards the ovule and invade the embryo sac to release its sperm cell cargo. Our aim is to elucidate the genetic control of germline cells that will allow exploring the full potential in terms of genetic variability to increase crop resilience to adverse conditions.
Developmental transitions.The transition of one developmental stage to the next one is strongly linked with environmental cues. Some interesting data indicate the involvement of epigenetic and genomic regulations in controlling those transitions, for instance the progression from adult vegetative development to reproductive development. However, it is still unknown which genomic components determine the timing of those transitions. We are approaching this question by looking to different reproductive developmental stages in order to elucidate what determines the transition from one stage to another. We aim to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control reproductive developmental progression.
Breeding and Genetics and Environmental Horticulture
ORH4932/ HOS6932 - Methods in Plant Biotechnology: Principles and Applications
This is a plant science course that provides a closer look on the use of biotechnological tools for plant improvement. Principles, state of the art and applications to improve plant performance and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses are the emphasis of this course.
HOS 4313C - Laboratory Methods in Plant Molecular Biology
This course provides students with hands-on experience in laboratory methods used to characterize plant nucleic acid sequences and proteins.