The focus of the Poovaiah research laboratory is on calcium/calmodulin-mediated signaling in plants. In 1984, we documented calcium- and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphorylation in plants (Science 1984; Plant Physiology 1984). In 1995, we cloned and characterized a calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase which we named CCaMK (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1995, communicated by Edwin Krebs, Nobel Laureate).
It is becoming clear that CCaMK plays a critical role in both bacterial and fungal symbioses in plants (Nature, 2006 and other publications). We also documented how calcium/calmodulin and their interactors play unique roles in controlling plant growth (Nature 2005) and plant defense/immunity (Nature 2009, highlighted in Cell 2009). These and other recent results document novel regulatory mechanisms where calcium acts as a “master switch” in controlling various physiological processes in plants.