David Shintani » W-APS

David Shintani

Assocaite Dean of Resident Instruction University of NevadaDepartment of CABNR/NAES
Work University of Nevada Mail Stop 221 1664 North Virginia Street Reno NV 89557 Work Phone: 775-784-1095
Photo of David Shintani

Biographical Info


B.Sc. Biochemistry, 1985 University of California, Davis
Ph.D. Biology, 1996 Michigan State University


Rubber Biosynthesis

The goal of this project is to determine how natural rubber is synthesized in plants. Natural rubber is required for the manufacture of thousands of products needed in daily life. Due to its superior performance properties, natural rubber is an irreplaceable material in the manufacture of many products, such as automobile and aircraft tires. Surprisingly, even with its high economic and strategic importance, the biosynthesis of rubber has been poorly characterized. Move than fifty years of biochemical experimentation has so far failed to identify the proteins required for rubber biosynthesis in plants. This is primarily due to the fact that the membrane associated rubber biosynthetic machinery is resistant to purification by classic biochemical methods. To circumvent this problem, proteomics, genomics and reverse genetic analyses will be used to functionally identify the genes/proteins required for rubber biosynthesis from two hyper-producing rubber species, guayule (Parthenium argentatum) and Russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz). The novel approach used here represents the most rapid means of advancing our knowledge of rubber biosynthesis in plants and will lead to identification of genes/proteins that regulate the quantity and quality of natural rubber.

The gene-based resources generated from this research will be used for the improvement of current rubber producing crops and the development of alternative rubber producing domestic crops through genetic engineering and molecular breeding approaches. The development of domestic rubber producing crops will provide a number of benefits to the American public including: 1) decreased dependence on imported natural rubber, 2) the creation of a new high value commodity crops for the American farmer, 3) the generation of a hypoallergenic alternatives to Hevea derived rubber for persons with latex allergies and 4) decreased dependence on petroleum for the synthesis of synthetic polymers.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Biosynthesis In Plants

Thiamin (Vitamin B1) deficiencies in humans can lead to a condition known as Beriberi that is manifested by severe neurological disorders and a general wasting phenomenon. This disease is primarily associated with poverty-stricken populations of developing countries whose diets subsist primarily of polished grain products such as polished rice or bleached wheat flour. A sustainable solution to thiamin deficiencies in humans would be to increase the nutritional content of staple food crops that endogenous populations of the world commonly consume. By genetic engineering crops for increased thiamin, it should be possible to positively impact the nutritional needs of the global population. Unfortunately, the major impediment to this effort is a current lack of knowledge pertaining to the biosynthesis of thiamin in plants. We are using a combination of biochemical, molecular, and genomic-based approaches to dissect the regulatory mechanisms controlling thiamin biosynthesis in plants. The increased biosynthetic knowledge obtained through our research will be important for the rational design of crops engineered for elevated thiamin levels for improved human and animal nutrition.

Categories: Academic Director, LG, MRC