Texas Tech University

Chris Rock

Research Interests

Plant molecular genetics, growth and development; abscisic acid and biotic/abiotic stress signal transduction; plant microRNAs and non-coding RNAs; translational science

The world faces grand challenges to meet the requirement for sustainable agricultural production and increased demands for biofuels and biomass.  Drought conditions affect an estimated 25% of crops with a corresponding decrease in productivity estimated worldwide to be worth US$10 billion/yr.  Reclamation of arable land of marginal quality will result in crops that increasingly experience stress. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a plant hormone which mediates seed maturation, cell division, and responses to drought, salinity, chilling, and pathogen attack. A deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms of stress adaptation impacting growth and development is necessary for the future development of engineered stress response strategies for crops. Toward this end, we are focusing on (i) a genetic approach to clone Wilty genes controlling ABA- and drought homeostasis and vascular development in maize, (ii) an ABA-inducible transient gene expression system with Nicotiana benthamiana, and (iii) small RNA biology.  We have initiated applied projects to engineer transgenic crops using CRISPR/Cas9 technologies that target effector non-coding RNAs and downstream transcription factors to improve agronomic traits such as fiber length in cotton, nutraceutical production in fruits/berries, and microbial pathogen resistance.

Selected Publications

  • Fiene J.G., Mallick S., Mittal A., Nansen C., Kalns L., Dever J., Sword G.A., Rock, C.D. (2017) Characterization of transgenic cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) over-expressing Arabidopsis thaliana Related to ABA-Insensitive3(ABI3)/Vivparous1 (AtRAV1) and AtABI5 transcription factors: improved water use efficiency through altered guard cell physiology. Plant Biotechnology Reports, doi: 10.1007/s11816-017-0455-6. Online version available here.
  • Rock, C.D. (2017) Phenylpropanoid metabolism.  In: eLS (Encyclopedia of Life Science). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001912.pub2. Online version is available here
  • Mittal A, Jiang Y-w, Ritchie G, Burke JJ, Rock, C.D. (2015) AtRAV1 and RAV2 overexpression in cotton increases fiber length differentially during drought stress and delays flowering. Plant Science 241:78-95. Online version is available here 
  • Mittal A, Balasubramanian R, Cao J, Singh P, Subramanian S, Hicks G, Nothnagel EA, Abidi N, Janda J, Galbraith DW, Rock, C.D. (2014) TOPOISOMERASE 6B is involved in chromatin remodelling associated with control of carbon partitioning into secondary metabolites and cell walls, and epidermal morphogenesis in Arabidopsis.  Journal of Experimental Botany 65:4217-39. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eru198 Click here to download a pdf of this article.
  • Mittal, A., Gampala, S., Ritchie, G., Payton, P., Burke, J., Rock, C.D. (2014) Related to ABA-Insensitive3(ABI3)/Viviparous1 and AtABI5 transcription factor co-expression in cotton enhances drought stress adaptation.” Plant Biotechnology Journal 12(5):578-589. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12162 Click  here to download a pdf of this article. Click here to view cover image and text.
  • Rock, C.D. (2013) Trans-acting small interfering RNA4 : key to nutraceutical synthesis in grape development? Trends Plant Sci 18:601-610. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2013.07.006 Click here to download a pdf of this article. Click here for Supplementary Data file.   
  • Jia F, Rock, C.D. (2013) “Jacalin Lectin At5g28520 Is Regulated By ABA and miR846.”   Plant Signaling and Behavior , vol 8 (6): e24563. Click  here to download a pdf of this article. 
  • Ou-Yang, F., Luo, Q.-J., Zhang, Y., Richardson, C.R., Jiang, Y.-W., Rock, C.D. (2013) "Transposable element-associated microRNA hairpins produce 21-nt sRNAs integrated into typical microRNA pathways in rice" Functional & Integrative Genomics .  Volume 13, Issue 2 (2013), Page 207-216 DOI: 10.1007/s10142-013-0313-8. Click here to download a pdf of this article. The final publication is available at http://link.springer.com.
  • Jia, F., Rock, C.D.  (2013) “MIR846 and MIR842 comprise a cistronic MIRNA pair that is regulated by abscisic acid by alternative splicing in roots of Arabidopsis” Plant Molecular Biology 81:447-460 DOI 10.1007/s11103-013-0015-6. Click here to download a pdf of this article. The final publication is available at http://link.springer.com.
  • Luo Q.-J., Mittal, A., Jia, F., Rock, C.D.  (2012) “An autoregulatory feedback loop involving PAP1 and TAS4 in response to sugars in Arabidopsis.” Plant Mol. Biol . 80 (1): 117-129. DOI: 10.1007/s11103-011-9778-9.(Special Issue on microRNAs)  Click here to download a pdf of this article. The final publication is available at http://link.springer.com.
  • Rock, C.D., Luo, Q.-J., Ou-Yang, F. (2011) “Antisense transcription associated with microRNA target mRNAs.”: In: Non-coding RNAs in Plants.  V. A. Erdmann and J. Barciszewski (Eds). Springer: Dordrecht, Netherlands.  ISBN 978-3-642-19453-5
  • Rock, C.D., Sakata Y, Quatrano RS (2010) Stress Signaling I: The Role of Abscisic Acid (ABA).  In “Abiotic Stress Adaptation in Plants: Physiological, Molecular and Genomic Foundation. A. Pareek, SK Sopory, HJ Bohnert, Govindjee (Eds). Springer: Dordrecht, The Netherlands.  ISBN: 978-90-481-3111-2
  • Richardson CR, Luo Q-J, Gontcharova V, Jiang Y-W, Samanta M, Rock, C.D. (2010) Analysis of Antisense Expression by Whole Genome Tiling Microarrays and siRNAs Suggests Mis-Annotation of Arabidopsis Orphan Protein-Coding Genes. PLoS ONE 5(5): e10710. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010710 Click here to download a pdf of this article.
  • Jia F, Gampala SS, Mittal A, Luo Q, Rock, C.D. (2009) Cre-lox univector acceptor vectors for functional screening in protoplasts: analysis of Arabidopsis donor cDNAs encoding ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE1-like protein phosphatases.  Plant Mol Biol. 70 (6): 693-708.  Click here to download a pdf of this article. The final publication is available at http://link.springer.com.
  • Luo, Q.J., Samanta, M.P., Köksal, F., Janda, J., Galbraith, D.W., Richardson, C.R., Ou-Yang, F., Rock, C.D.  (2009) Evidence for Antisense Transcription Associated with MicroRNA Target mRNAs in Arabidopsis. PLoS Genetics . 2009 5(4): e1000457.  Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Finkelstein, R.R, Gampala, S.S.L., Lynch, T.J., Thomas T.L., Rock, C.D. (2005) Redundant and distinct functions of the ABA response loci ABA-INSENSITIVE(ABI)5 and ABRE-BINDING FACTOR(ABF)3. Plant Molecular Biology 59: 253-267. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Rock, C.D., Sun, X (2005) Crosstalk between ABAand auxin signaling pathways in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. Planta, 222: 98-106. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Finkelstein, R.R., Rock, C.D. (2003). Abscisic acid biosynthesis and response (52 pp.) In: E.M. Meyerowitz and C.R. Somerville (eds.), Arabidopsis, 2nd ed. Plainview, N.Y.: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. See http://www.aspb.org/publications/arabidopsis/ Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Finkelstein, R.R., Gampala S.S.L., Rock, C.D. (2002) Abscisic acid signaling in seeds and seedlings. Plant Cell Supplement 2002: S15-S45. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Subramanian S., Rajagopal B., Rock, C.D. (2002) Harlequin (hlq) and short blue root (sbr), two Arabidopsis mutants that ectopically express an ABA- and auxin-inducible transgenic carrot promoter and have pleiotropic effects on morphogenesis. Plant Molecular Biology 49: 93-105. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper. Click here to view cover image and text.
  • Gampala S.S.L., Finkelstein R.R., Sun S.M., Rock, C.D. (2002) ABI5 interacts with abscisic acid signaling effectors in rice protoplasts. J. Biol. Chem. 277: 1689-1694. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Xiong L., Gong, Z., Rock, C.D., Subramanian S., Guo, Y., Galbraith, D., Zhu, J.-K. (2001) Modulation of abscisic acid signal transduction and biosynthesis by an Sm-like protein in Arabidopsis. Developmental Cell 1: 771-781.
  • Hagenbeek D., Rock, C.D. (2001) Quantitative analysis of gene expression in rice protoplasts by flow cytometry. Cytometry 45: 170-179. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Gampala, S. S., Hagenbeek, D., Rock, C.D. (2001) Functional interactions of lanthanum and phospholipase D with the abscisic acid signaling effectors VP1 and ABI1-1 in rice protoplasts. J. Biol. Chem. 276: 9855- 9860. Click here to download the pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Rock, C.D. (2000) Pathways to abscisic acid-regulated gene expression. New Phytol. 148: 357- 396. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Hagenbeek, D., Quatrano, R.S., Rock, C.D. (2000) Trivalent ions activate ABA-inducible promoters through an ABI1 -dependent pathway in rice ( Oryza sativa L.) protoplasts. Plant Physiology 123: 1553-1560. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.
  • Chak, R.K.F., Thomas, T.L., Quatrano, R.S., Rock, C.D. (2000) The genes ABI1 and ABI2 are involved in abscisic acid- and drought-inducible expression of the Daucus carota L. Dc3 promoter in guard cells of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana L. Heynh. Planta , 210: 875-883. Click here to download a pdf reprint of this paper.

Department of Biological Sciences

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    Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Box 43131 Lubbock, TX 79409
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