Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology
Noah Whiteman’s research group studies the molecular basis of adaptations arising from the ancient arms race between toxic plants and the animals and microbes that attack them. Their focus is on understanding the molecular bases (genetic, biochemical, physiological) of plant-insect chemical co-evolution, and specifically, how plant toxins are sensed and metabolized by animals. Most recently, they focused on plants that produce heart poisons that bind to the sodium potassium pump of animals. They used CRISPR-Cas-9 genome editing in Drosophila melanogaster to retrace the adaptive walk taken by monarch butterflies and their relatives as they colonized toxic milkweed plants.