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Welcome to the Umen laboratory at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Our work strives to answer important fundamental questions in biology using the unique attributes of volvocine green algae. Current areas of interest include cell cycle and cell size control in the multiple fission cell cycle of Chlamydomonas, evolution of germ-soma cell types and multicellularity in Volvox and its close relatives, and the evolution of sexes and sexual dimorphism. We also investigate inositol polyphosphate (IP) signaling and its interactions with target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase signaling, phosphate homeostasis and storage lipid metabolism. Two additional projects with direct translational potential are investigation of conserved uncharacterized green lineage proteins shared by Chlamydomonas and land plants, and development of synthetic biology tools to create algal artificial chromosomes. Our work is motivated by scientific curiosity, but we always keep our eyes on how to connect what we do to the Danforth Center Mission and Values.  

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