Dr. Bharti Sharma
Postdoctoral Researcher
•    Developed a high efficiency VIGS protocol for Aquilegia coerulea for reverse genetics. I was invited by “Methods In Molecular Biology” to contribute a chapter describing this protocol in Aquilegia (Sharma and Kramer 2013a).
•    I demonstrated that the B gene paralog AP3-3 has experienced subfunctionalization such that it now only promotes petal identity. (Sharma et al., 2011).
•    My functional studies of single and double silencing of
     AqAP3-1 and AqAP3-2 determined that following
     their duplication, AqAP3-1 has undergone neofunctionalization
     to promote staminodium identity while AqAP3-2 has been
    subfunctionalized for stamen development. (Sharma and Kramer 2013b).
•    I contributed to studies that identified role of for AqFL1/2 in leaf morphogenesis and inflorescence development. (Pabon-Mora et al., 2013).
•    Identified novel roles for AGAMOUS paralogs in staminodium identity. Silencing either AqAG1 or AqAG2 results in strikingly different phenotypes. While AqAG1 maintains the canonical C function in stamen and carpel identity, AqAG2 appears to have entirely lost a role in carpel identity and, instead, has acquired a novel function in staminodium identity. (Sharma et al., in prep a).
•    Studied the regulation of Aquilegia APETALA3 paralogs by homologs of UNUSUAL FLORAL ORGANS. Down-regulation of AqUFO1 and AqUFO2 results in loss of petal and outer stamen identity but the identity of the inner stamens and staminodia are maintained. The AqUFO paralogs also play a role in inflorescence branching patterns. AqUFO1 and AqUFO2 appear to primarily promote AqAP3-3 and AqPI expression in the second whorl and possibly AqAP3-2 and AqPI expression in the outer stamens (Sharma et al., in prep b).
•    Down-regulation of AqPI alone in A. coerulea has revealed a role for the B gene homologs in color production in the petaloid sepals as well as suggested an important function in maintaining AG expression in the outer stamen whorls (Study in progress).
•    Contributed an invited review to Current Opinion in Plant Biology entitled “Understanding the development and evolution of novel floral form in Aquilegia.” (Sharma et al., in press a).
•    Phylogenetic characterization of MADS-box and Homeobox transcription factor families in Aquilegia (Sharma and Kramer in press b, Sharma and Kramer in prep c).
•    Morphological characterization of nectiferous petals of Berberis and Epimedium (Studies in progress)
•    Development of an efficient tissue culture protocol for Aquilegia.
•    Expression and evolution of B genes in Nigella and Cocculus (Sharma et al., 2011).
•    Development of an efficient protocol for Gymnema sylvestre (Sharma and Bansal 2010).
Pabón-Mora, N., B. Sharma, L. Holappa, E. M. Karmer, A. Litt. (2013) The Aquilegia FRUITFULL-like gene plays a major role in leaf morphogenesis. Plant Journal, 74, 192-212.
Sharma, B. and Y. K. Bansal. (2010) In vitro propagation of Gymnema sylvestre Retz. R.Br. through apical bud culture. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research 4, 1473-1476. (Corresponding author).
Sharma, B., C. Guo, H. Kong, E. M. Kramer. (2011) Petal-specific subfunctionalization of an APETALA3 paralog in the Ranunculales and its implications for petal evolution. New Phytologist, 191, 870-883.
Sharma, B. and E. M. Kramer. (2013a) Virus induced gene silencing in the rapid cycling Aquilegia coerulea ‘Origami.’ Methods in Molecular Biology, 975, 71-81, (invited).
Sharma, B. and E. M. Kramer. (2013b) Sub- and neofunctionalization of APETALA3 paralogs have contributed to the evolution of novel floral organ identity in Aquilegia (columbine, Ranunculaceae). New Phytologist, 197, 949-957.
Sharma, B. and E. M. Kramer. The MADS box gene family of the lower eudicot Aquilegia coerulea E. James. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, in press.
Sharma, B. and E. M. Kramer.  (in prep c) Genome-wide annotation of critical transcription factor families in Aquilegia x coerulea ‘Origami’. In prep for PLoS One.
Sharma, B., C. Levy and E. M. Kramer. (in prep b) Homologs of UNUSUAL FLORAL ORGANS (UFO) contribute to differential expression of APETALA3 paralogs in Aquilegia. In prep for Plant Cell.
Sharma, B., G. X. C. Teo*, L. Holappa, and E. M. Kramer. (in prep a) Sculpting floral architecture: Functional evolution of the AGAMOUS homologs of Aquilegia. In prep, for Development. *Undergraduate author.
Sharma, B., L. Yant, S. A. Hodges and E. M. Kramer.  Aquilegia as a model system for floral development. Current Opinion in Plant Biology (invited), in press.
I am interested in understanding the evolution of novelty in floral forms.
My research is specifically focused on the following topics:
•Gene duplication as a mechanism for generating novel floral organ identity.
•Elaboration of the ABC model to accommodate novel floral organs in addition to sepals, petals stamens and carpels.
•Understanding the changes in genetic developmental pathways leading to novel floral structures.
I have made significant contributions in the field of Plant Evolutionary Biology with functional studies aimed at understanding the evolution and development of novel floral forms in Aquilegia coerulea. Using molecular genetic, developmental, and genomic approaches, I am studying floral development at recent and ancient evolutionary levels.
AqAP3-1-silenced staminodia are transformed into carpels with no effect on other floral organs.
AqAG1/2-silenced flowers show transformation of stamens-to-petals and both staminodia and stamens into sepals with strong initiation of new flowers in the center of the meristem.