Sharon R. Long
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Education and career
She studied at Harvey Mudd College, Caltech (B.S.) and Yale (Ph.D.) in biochemistry and genetics, and began her research on plants and symbiosis while a postdoc at Frederick M Ausubel's lab in Harvard University. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a 1992 MacArthur Fellows Program recipient. She joined the Stanford faculty in 1982, where she holds the Steere-Pfizer chair in Biological Sciences, and from 1994-2001 she was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She served as Dean of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University from 2001 to 2007. In September 2008 she was identified as one of 5 science advisors for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Her current research uses molecular, genetic, and biochemical techniques to study the early stages of symbiosis between Sinorhizobium meliloti and its host plants in the genus Medicago. Rhizobium cells recognize and form nodules on their plant hosts. Her group discovered that a flavone (luteolin) derived from alfalfa seed extracts is necessary for activation of nodulation genes (nod ABC) in Sinorhizobium meliloti. They proved that some nod genes encode enzymes that synthesize Nod Factor. They discovered that plant root hair cells show rapid ionic changes including calcium spiking in response to specific Nod Factors. With colleagues, they have identified plant genes for symbiosis, and correlated these with specific stages in nodule development.
- N.K. Peters, J. Frost and S.R. Long (1986) A flavone, luteolin, induces expression of Rhizobium meliloti nodulation genes. Science: 977-980.
- S.R. Long (1989) The Rhizobium-legume symbiosis: life together in the underground. Cell 56: 203-214.
- J. Schwedock and S. R. Long (1990) ATP sulfurylase activity of the nodP and nodQ gene products of Rhizobium meliloti. Nature 348: 644-647.