CCRC personnel


Debra Mohnen

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biosynthesis and biological functions of pectin

Telephone: 706-542-4458
Fax: 706-542-4412
Complex Carbohydrate Research Center
The University of Georgia
315 Riverbend Rd.
Athens, Georgia 30602

Short Biography
Research Interests
keywords and Selected Recent Publications
All Publications
Lab-personal web site


Short Biography:

Dr. Mohnen received her B.A. (magna cum laude) in biology in 1979 from Lawrence University (Wisconsin), and her M.S. in botany in 1981 and Ph.D. in plant biology in 1985 from the University of Illinois. Her Ph.D. research was conducted at the Friedrich Mischer Institute in Basel, Switzerland. She held postdoctoral research associate positions at the USDA's Richard Russell Research Center, and at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center (CCRC) in Athens, GA and won an NIH National Research Service Award for her postdoctoral research during 1987-89 at the CCRC. She was appointed to the CCRC faculty in September 1990 where she is presently Professor in the Department of Biochemisty and Molecular Biology and also adjunct faculty member in the Department of Plant Biology and member of the Plant Center at UGA. She served from 1994-97 on the Committee on the Status of Women in Plant Physiology of the American Society of Plant Physiologists, as invited faculty sponsor for the UGA Association for Women in Science (AWIS) from 2005-2007 and as past member-at-large in the Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division of the American Chemical Society. As Co-PI on the NSF-funded “Plant Cell Wall Biosynthesis Research Network” Dr. Mohnen established the originally NSF-funded service “CarboSource Services”, that provides rare substrates for plant wall polysaccharide synthesis to the research community. Her research centers on the biosynthesis, function and structure of plant cell wall polysaccharides. Her emphasis is on the biosynthesis of pectin, pectin function in plants and human health, and on the improvement of plant cell wall structure so as to improve the efficiency of conversion of plant wall biomass to biofuels. Dr. Mohnen was awarded the 2008 Bruce Stone Award by the Plant Polysaccharide Workshop for contributions and promising research in the area of Pectin Biosynthesis. She is Chair of the 2009 Plant Cell Walls Gordon Research Conference. Dr. Mohnen is Activity Lead in Plant Cell Wall Biosynthesis Research in the DOE-funded BioEnergy Science Center (BESC). Her research is supported by funding from the USDA, NSF and DOE.
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Research Interests:

Reseach Interest

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Keywords and Selected Recent Publications:

Keywords: Pectin biosynthesis, hemicellulose biosynthesis, oligogalacturonides, plant biochemistry and molecular biology, plant morphogenesis, organogenesis, plant cell walls, homogalacturonan, RG-I, RG-II, galacturonosyltransferase, glycosyl transferase, GAUT1-related gene family, cotton fiber, apoptosis, cancer, biofuel, bioenergy

Selected Recent Publications

Mohnen, D. (2008) Pectin Structure and Synthesis. Curr. Opin. Plant Biology 11:266-277.

Etzler, M.E. and Mohnen, D. (2008) Green Plants. In Essentials of Glycobiology, Second Edition, eds. Varki, A., Cummings, R., Esko, J., Freeze, H., Stanley, P., Bertozzi, C., Hart, G. and Etzler, M. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Chapter 22.

Mohnen, D., Bar-Peled, M. and Somerville, C. (2008) Biosynthesis of Plant Cell Walls. In Biomass Recalcitrance, ed. Himmel, M., Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. Chapter 5, pgs. 94-187.

Jackson, C.L., Dreaden, T.M., Theobald, L.K., Tran, N.M.; Beal, T.L., Eid, M., Gao, M.Y., Shirley, R.B., Stoffel, M.T., Kumar, M.V. Mohnen, D. 2007 Pectin induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells: correlation of apoptotic function with pectin structure. Glycobiology 17:805-819.

Persson, S., Caffall, K.H., Freshour, G. Hilley, M.T., Bauer, S., Poindexter, P., Hahn, M., Mohnen, D., Somerville, C. 2007. The Arabidopsis irregular xylem 8 mutant is deficient in glucuronoxylan and homogalacturonan which are essential for secondary cell wall integrity. Plant Cell 19:237-255.

Sterling, J.D., M.A. Atmodjo, S.E. Inwood, V.S.K. Kolli, H.F. Quigley, M.G. Hahn, and D. Mohnen. 2006. Functional identification of an Arabidopsis pectin biosynthetic homogalacturonan galacturonosyltransferase. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 103: 5236-5241.

Sterling, J.D., J.A. Lemons, I.F. Forkner, and D. Mohnen. 2005. Development of a filter assay for measuring homogalacturonan:a-1,4-galacturonosyltransferase activity. Anal. Biochem. 343: 231-236.

Guillaumie, F., J.D. Sterling, K.J. Jensen, O.R.T. Thomas, and D. Mohnen. 2003. Solid-supported enzymatic synthesis of pectic oligogalacturonides and their analysis by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Carbohydr. Res. 338: 1951-1960.

Mohnen, D. 2002. Biosynthesis of pectins. In: GB Seymour, JP Knox, eds Pectins and their Manipulation. Blackwell Publishing and CRC Press, Oxford, pp 52-98.

Sterling, J., H.F. Quigley, A. Orellana, and D. Mohnen. 2001. The catalytic site of the pectin biosynthetic enzyme a-1,4-galacturonosyltransferase (GalAT) is located in the lumen of the Golgi. Plant Physiol. 127: 360-371.

Ridley, B.L., M.A. O'Neill, and D. Mohnen. 2001. Pectins: structure, biosynthesis, and oligogalacturonide-related signaling. Phytochemistry 57: 929-967.

Goubet, F. and D. Mohnen. 1999. Subcellular localization and topology of homogalacturonan methyltransferase in suspension-cultured Nicotiano tabacum cells. Planta 209: 112-117.

Goubet, F. and D. Mohnen. 1999. Solubilization and partial characterization of homogalacturonan-methyltransferase from microsomal membranes of suspension-cultured tobacco cells. Plant Physiol. 121: 281-290.

Orellana, A. and D. Mohnen. 1999. Enzymatic synthesis and purification of [3H] uridine diphosphate galacturonic acid for use in studying Golgi-localized transporters. Anal. Biochem. 272: 224-231.

Scheller, H.V., R.L. Doong, B.L. Ridley, and D. Mohnen. 1998. Pectin biosynthesis: a solubilized a1,4-galacturonosyltransferase from tobacco catalyzes the transfer of galacturonic acid from UDP-galacturonic acid onto the non-reducing end of homogalacturonan. Planta 207: 512-517.

Doong, R.L. and D. Mohnen. 1998. Solubilization and characterization of a galacturonosyltransferase that synthesizes the pectic polysaccharide homogalacturonan. Plant J. 13: 363-374.

Goubet, F., L.N. Council, and D. Mohnen. 1998. Identification and partial characterization of the pectin methyltransferase "homogalacturonan-methyltransferase" from membranes of tobacco cell suspensions. Plant Physiol. 116: 337-347.

Ridley, B.L., M.D. Spiro, J. Glushka, P. Albersheim, A. Darvill, and D. Mohnen. 1997. A method for biotin labeling of biologically active oligogalacturonides using a chemically stable hydrazide linkage. Anal. Biochem. 249: 10-19.

Doong, R.L., K. Liljebjelke, G. Fralish, A. Kumar, and D. Mohnen. 1995. Cell free synthesis of pectin: identification and partial characterization of polygalacturonate 4-a-galacturonosyltransferase and its products from membrane extracts of tobacco cell suspension cultures. Plant Physiol. 109: 141-152.

Liljebjelke, K., R. Adolphson, K. Baker, R.L. Doong, and D. Mohnen. 1995. Enzymatic synthesis and purification of uridine diphosphate [14C]galacturonic acid: a substrate for pectin biosynthesis. Anal. Biochem. 225: 296-304.
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