Dr. Candace H. Haigler

Professor of Crop Science and Plant Biology

Cellulose Biology and Biotechnology

Research Interests:


The research in my laboratory centers on cellulose synthesis and cotton fiber development. Cellulose is the world’s most abundant renewable material, and it exists within plant cell walls as crystalline fibrils. These are formed by a membrane-associated protein complex that acts as a nanoscale fibril spinning machine. We are interested in filling in the many gaps about how this fascinating and important natural manufacturing process is regulated by the cell. The fundamental new knowledge arising from our research is applicable to the production of next-generation value-added fiber and biomass crops through genetic engineering or marker-assisted selection.We are especially interested in cotton fiber, the world’s most important natural textile fiber, because its unique secondary wall contains almost 100% cellulose. We unify molecular biology, cell biology (including advanced imaging methods), and biochemistry to reveal new mechanisms regulating cotton fiber development. We focus on secondary wall cellulose synthesis and novel mechanisms regulating cotton fiber elongation: these processes are both critical determinants of the fiber quality characteristics that are important to the textile industry. We collaborate with Dr. Niki Robertson in the development and use of virus induced gene silencing as a faster means of testing gene function in cotton and with the Plant Transformation Lab (Drs. George Allen and Sergei Krasnyanski) to improve the efficiency of cotton stable transformation. We also use arabidopsis as a model plant for functional genomics. Our research on cotton fiber, which is funded by Cotton Incorporated, Cary, NC, and the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Program (Jeff Chen, P.I., David Stelly, Brian Scheffler, and C. Haigler, co-PIs), is an integral part of cotton fiber becoming a higher value material grown from different genetic stocks for product-specific requirements.

The lab is also part of the “Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation”, an Energy Frontier Research Center led by Dr. Daniel Cosgrove at Pennsylvania State University and funded by the Department of Energy from 2009 – 2014 (www.cals.lignocellulose.org). Along with collaborators at NC State, Dr. Alex Smirnov and Dr. Yaroslava Yingling, we use advanced transmission electron microscopy in conjunction with genetic and biochemical analysis, protein structure determination and computational modeling, and nanobioengineering to probe the structure and function of the cellulose synthesizing complex. This work will interface with diverse experimental approaches of other collaborators in the Center to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the rules for assembly of lignocellulosic biomass, a main target for production of renewable biofuels and advanced materials in the future carbohydrate-based economy.

Selected Recent Publications:

Taliercio E, Haigler CH (2011) The effect of calcium on early fiber elongation in cotton ovule culture. Journal of Cotton Science 15: 154-161

Joshi CP, Thammannagowda S, Fujino T, Gou J-Q, Avci U, Haigler CH, McDonnell LM, Mansfield SD, Menghesa B, Carpita NC, Harris D, DeBolt S, Peter GF (2011) Perturbation of wood cellulose synthesis causes pleiotropic effects in transgenic aspen. Molecular Plant4: 331-345,doi: 10.1093/mp/ssq081.

Santa-Maria MC, Yencho CG, Haigler CH, Thompson WF, Kelly RM, Sosinski B (2011) Starch self-processing in transgenic sweetpotato roots expressing a hyperthermophilic alpha-amylase. Biotechnology Progress 27: 351-359

Rapp RA, Haigler CH, Flagel L, Hovav RH, Udall JA, Wendel JF  (2010) Gene expression in developing fibers of Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) was massively altered by domestication. BMC Biology 2010, 8:139, doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-139  Open access article; a Highly Accessed Article. An accompanying commentary article by BL Gross and JL Strasburg is open access.

Idris AM, Tuttle JR, Robertson D, Haigler CH, Brown JK (2010) Differential cotton leaf crumple virus-VIGS-mediated gene silencing and viral genome localization in different Gossypium hirsutum genetic backgrounds.Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology 75: 13-22doi:10.1016/j.pmpp.2010.07.002

Paterson AH, Rong J-K, Gingle AR, Chee PW, Dennis ES, Llewellyn D, Dure LS III, Haigler C, Myers GO, Peterson DG, ur Rahman M, Zafar Y, Reddy U, Saranga Y, Stewart JM, Udall JA, Waghmare VN, Wendel JF, Wilkins TA, Wright RJ, Elsayed EZ, Hafez EE, Zhu J (2010) Sequencing and utilization of theGossypium genomes. Tropical Plant Biology 3: 71-74, DOI 10.1007/s12042-010-9051-4. This article was featured on the cover of the journal.

Livingston DP III, Tuong TD, Gadi SRV, Haigler CH, Gelman RS, Cullen JM (2010) 3D volumes constructed from pixel-based images by digitally clearing plant and animal tissue. Journal of Microscopy 240: 122-129doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.2010.03393.x. This article was featured on the cover of the journal.

Betancur L, Singh B, Rapp RA, Wendel JF, Marks MD, Roberts AR, Haigler CH (2010) Phylogenetically distinct cellulose synthase genes support secondary wall thickening in arabidopsis shoot trichomes and cotton fiber. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 52: 205-220, DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2010.00934.x. Invited article for the special issue, THE PLANT CELL SURFACE. Open Access Article.

Singh B, Avci U, Eichler Inwood SE, Grimson MJ, Landgraf J, Mohnen D, Sørensen I, Wilkerson CG, Willats WGT, Haigler CH (2009) A specialized outer layer of the primary cell wall joins elongating cotton fibers into tissue-like bundles. Plant Physiology 150: 684-699. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.135459.This article was featured on the cover of the journal. Open Access Article:

Singh B, Cheek HD, Haigler CH (2009) A synthetic auxin (NAA) suppresses secondary wall cellulose synthesis and enhances elongation in cultured cotton fiber, Plant Cell Reports 28: 1023-1032. doi: 10.1007/s00299-009-0714-2

Livingston DP III, Tuong TD, Haigler CH, Avci U, Tallury SP (2009) Rapid microwave processing of winter cereals for histology allows identification of separate zones of freezing injury in the crown. Crop Science 49: 1-6. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2009.02.0077.

Santa-Maria M, Chou C-J, Yencho C, Haigler C, Thompson WF, Kelly RM, Sosinski B (2009) Plant cell calcium-rich environment enhances thermostability of recombinantly produced a-amylase from the hyperthermophilicbacterium Thermotoga maritima.Biotechnology and Bioengineering 104: 947-956, doi: 10.1002/bit.22468.

Haigler CH, Roberts AW (2009) Biogenesis of cellulose nanofibrils by a biological nanomachine, In The Nanoscience and Technology of Renewable Biomaterials (Lucian Lucia and Orlando Rojas, eds.) Wiley-Blackwell Publishing: Oxford UK, 368 pp.

Haigler CH, Singh B, Wang G, Zhang D (2009) Genomics of cotton fiber secondary wall deposition and cellulose biogenesis. In: Paterson AH (ed.) Genetics and Genomics of Cotton, Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models 3, Springer Science + Business Media, LLC: New York, pp. 385-417, DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-70810-216.

Marks MD, Betancur L, Gilding E, Chen F, Bauer S, Wenger J, Dixon RA, Haigler CH (2008) A new method for isolating large quantities of Arabidopsis trichomes for transcriptome, cell wall and other types of analyses.Plant Journal 56: 483-492 (doi: 10.111/j/1365-313X.2008/03611.x, a Technical Advance article, with cover picture).

Avci U, Petzold, HE, Ismail IO, Beers EP, Haigler CH (2008) Cysteine proteases XCP1 and XCP2 aid micro-autolysis within the intact central vacuole during xylogenesis in Arabidopsis roots. Plant Journal 56: 303-313,doi: 10.111/j.1365-313X.2008.03592.x.

Tuttle JR, Idris AM, Brown JK, Haigler CH, Robertson D (2008) Geminivirus-mediated gene silencing from cotton leaf crumple virus is enhanced by low temperature inGossypium hirsutum, Plant Physiology 148: 41-50 (doi: 10.1104/pp.108.123869, a Breakthrough Technologies article).

Chen ZJ, Scheffler BE, Dennis E, Triplett B, Zhang T, Chen X, Stelly DM, Rabinowicz PD,  Town C,, Arioli T,  Brubaker  C, Cantrell R, Lacape J-M,  Ulloa M,  Chee P, Gingle AR, Haigler CH, Percy R, Saha S, Wilkins T, Wright RJ, Deynze AV, Zhu Y, Yu S, Guo W, Abdurakhmonov I, Katageri  I, Rahman M,  Zafar Y, Yu JZ, Kohel RJ, Wendel  J, and Paterson AH (2007) Towards sequencing cotton (Gossypium) genomes. Plant Physiology 145: 1303-1310.

Zhao C, Avci U, Grant EH, Haigler CH, and Beers EP (2007) XND1, a member of the NAC domain family inArabidopsis thaliana, negatively regulates lignocellulose production and programmed cell death in xylem. Plant Journal 53: 425-436 (This article was featured on the cover of the journal).

Haigler CH, Singh B, Zhang D, Hwang S, Wu C, Cai WX, Hozain M, Kang W, Kiedaisch B, Strauss RE, Hequet EF, Wyatt BG, Jividen GM, Holaday AS. 2007. Transgenic cotton over-producing spinach sucrose phosphate synthase showed enhanced leaf sucrose synthesis and improved fiber quality under controlled environmental conditions. Plant Molecular Biology 63: 815-83

Haigler, C.H. 2007. Substrate supply for cellulose synthesis and its stress sensitivity in the cotton fiber. In: Brown RM Jr, Saxena I (eds) Cellulose: Molecular and Structural Biology, Springer: New York, pp. 145 – 166.

Udall JA, Swanson JM, Haller K, Rapp RA, Sparks ME, Hatfield J, Yu Y, Wu Y, Dowd C, Arpat AB, Sickler BA, Wilkins TA, Guo JY, Chen XY, Scheffler J, Talierco E, Turley R, McFadden H, Payton P, Allen R, Zhang D, Haigler C, Wilkerson C, Suo J, Schulze SR, Pierce ML, Essenberg M, Kim H, Llewellyn DJ, Dennis ES, Kudrna D, Wing R, Paterson AH, Soderlund C, Wendel JF (2006) A global assembly of cotton ESTs. Genome Research 16: 441-50.

Haigler, C.H. 2006. Establishing the cellular and biophysical context of cellulose synthesis. In: T. Hayashi, ed. The Science and Lore of the Plant Cell Wall: Biosynthesis, Structure and Function, Brown Walker Press: Boca Raton, FL, pp. 97 – 105.

Singh B, Haley L, Nightengale J, Kang WH, Haigler CH, Holaday AS. 2005. Long-term night chilling of cotton, Gossypium hirsutum, does not result in reduced CO2 assimilation. Functional Plant Biology 32: 655-666

Haigler, C.H., Zhang, D., Wilkerson, C.G. 2005. Biotechnological improvement of cotton fiber maturity. Physiologia Plantarum 124: 285-294.

Roberts, A.W., Frost, A.O., Roberts, E.M., and Haigler, C.H. 2004. Roles of microtubules and cellulose microfibril assembly in the localization of secondary cell wall synthesis in developing tracheary elements. Protoplasma 224: 217-229.

Martin, L.K. and C.H. Haigler. 2004. Cool temperature hinders flux from glucose to sucrose during cellulose synthesis in secondary wall stage cotton fibers. Cellulose 11: 339-349.

Zhang, D., M. Hrmova, C.-H. Wan, C. Wu, J. Balzen, W. Cai, J. Wang, L.D. Densmore, G.B. Fincher, H. Zhang and C.H. Haigler. 2004. Members of a new group of chitinase-like genes are expressed preferentially in cotton cells with secondary walls. Plant Molecular Biology 54:353-372.

Kiedaisch, B.M., Blanton, R. L., Haigler, C. H. 2003. Characterization of a novel cellulose synthesis inhibitor. Planta 217: 922-930.

Haigler CH. 2003. Progress and emerging questions in understanding cellulose biogenesis. Proceedings, Vol. 1: 12th International Symposium on Wood and Pulping Chemistry, Univ. Wisconsin-Madison, pp. 9-16.

Salnikov, V., Grimson, M.J., Seagull, R.W., Haigler, C.H. 2003. Localization of sucrose synthase and callose in freeze substituted, secondary wall stage, cotton fibers. Protoplasma 221: 175-184.

Delmer, D.P. and Haigler, C.H. 2002. The regulation of metabolic flux to cellulose, a major sink for carbon in plants. Metabolic Engineering 4: 22-28

Babb, V.M. and Haigler, C.H. 2001. Sucrose phosphate synthase activity rises in correlation with high-rate cellulose synthesis in three heterotrophic systems. Plant Physiology 127: 1234-1242.

Haigler, C.H., Babb. V.M., Hwang, S., and Salnikov, V.V. 2001. Regulation of cellulose biosynthesis in developing xylem. In Molecular Breeding of Woody Plants, N Morohoshi and A Komamine, eds, Elsevier Science B.V.: Amsterdam, pp. 1 – 9.

Haigler, C.H., M. Ivanova-Datcheva, P. S. Hogan, V. V. Salnikov, S. Hwang, L. K. Martin, and Delmer, D.P. 2001. Carbon partitioning to cellulose synthesis. Plant Molecular Biology 47: 29-51.

Salnikov, V.V, Grimson, M.J., Delmer, D.P., and Haigler, C.H. 2001. Sucrose synthase localizes to cellulose synthesis sites in tracheary elements. Phytochemistry 57: 823-833.

Haigler, C.H., Cai, W.X., Gannaway, J.G., Grimson, M.J., Hequet, E.F., Holaday, A.S., Huang, J.-Y., Jaradat, T.T., Jividen, G.J., Krieg, D.R., Martin, L.K., Nagarur, S., Salnikov, V.V., Strauss, R.E., Tummala, J., Wan, C.H., Wu, C., Wyatt, B.G., and Zhang, H. 2000. Optimizing secondary wall synthesis in cotton fibers. In: C.R. Benedict, ed., Genetic Control of Cotton Fiber and Seed Quality, Cotton Incorporated: Cary, NC, pp. 147-165.

Roberts, A.W., S.G. Donovan, and C.H. Haigler. 1997. A secreted factor induces cell expansion and formation of metaxylem-like tracheary elements in xylogenic suspension cultures of Zinnia Plant Physiology 115: 683-692.

Grimson, M.J., C.H. Haigler, and R.L. Blanton. 1996. Cellulose microfibrils, cell motility, and plasma membrane organization change in parallel during culmination in Dictyostelium discoideum. Journal of Cell Science 109:3079 – 3087.

Haigler, C.H. and R.L. Blanton. 1996. (Invited Commentary) New hope for old dreams: Evidence that plant cellulose synthase genes have finally been identified. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 93: 12082-12085.

Taylor, J.G., C.H. Haigler, D.G. Kilburn, and R.L. Blanton. 1996. Detection of cellulose with improved specificity using laser-based instruments. Biotechnic and Histochemistry 71: 215-223.

Blanton, R.L. and C.H. Haigler. 1996. Cellulose biosynthesis, in M. Smallwood, J.P. Knox, and D.J. Bowles, eds. Membranes: Specialized Functions in Plants, BIOS Scientific Publishers, Oxford, UK, p. 57-75.

Amor, Y., C. H. Haigler, S. Johnson, M. Wainscott, and D.P. Delmer. 1995. A membrane-associated form of sucrose synthase and its potential role in synthesis of cellulose and callose in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 92: 9353-9357.

Haigler, C. H., J. G. Taylor, and L.K. Martin. 1994. Temperature dependence of fiber cellulose biosynthesis: Impact on fiber maturity and strength. in Proceedings of the Biochemistry of Cotton Workshop, Galveston, TX, Sept. 28-30, Cotton Incorporated, Raleigh, NC. p. 95-100.

Haigler, C.H. 1994. From signal transduction to biophysics: tracheary element differentiation as a model system. (Invited Commentary) International Jourrnal of Plant Science 155: 248-250.

Roberts, A.W. and C.H. Haigler. 1994. Cell expansion and tracheary element differentiation are regulated by extracellular pH in mesophyll cultures of Zinnia elegans L. Plant Physiology 105: 699-706.

Xie, W., N.L. Trolinder, and C.H. Haigler. 1993. Cool temperature effects on cotton fiber initiation and elongation clarified using in vitro cultures. Crop Science 33: 1258-1264.

Taylor, J.G. and C.H. Haigler. 1993. Patterned secondary wall assembly in tracheary elements occurs in a self-perpetuating cascade. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 42: 153-163.

Taylor, J.G., T.P. Owen, Jr., L.T. Koonce, and C.H. Haigler. 1992. Dispersed lignin in tracheary elements treated with cellulose synthesis inhibitors provides evidence that molecules of the secondary cell wall mediate wall patterning. The Plant Journal 2: 959-970.

Haigler, C.H. 1992. The crystallinity of cotton cellulose in relation to cotton improvement. Proc. Cotton Fiber Cellulose: Structure, Function, and Utilization Conference, National Cotton Council of America: Memphis, TN., p. 211-225.

Roberts, E.M., R.R. Nunna, J.Y. Huang, N.L. Trolinder, and C.H. Haigler. 1992. Effects of cycling temperatures on fiber metaBOlism in cultured cotton ovules. Plant Physiology 100: 979-986.

Roberts, A.W. and C.H. Haigler. 1992. Methylxanthines reversibly inhibit tracheary element differentiation in suspension cultures of Zinnia elegans. Planta 186: 586-592.

Roberts, A.W., L.T. Koonce, and C.H. Haigler. 1992. A simplified medium for in vitro tracheary element differentiation in mesophyll cells from Zinnia elegans. Plant Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture 28: 27-35.

Shang, X.M., J.Y. Huang, C.H. Haigler, and N.L. Trolinder. 1991. Buffer capacity of cotton cells and effects of extracellular pH on growth and somatic embryogenesis in cotton cell suspensions. In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology 27P: 147-152.

Haigler, C.H, N.R. Rao, E.M. Roberts, J.Y. Huang, D.R. Upchurch, and N.L. Trolinder. 1991. Cultured cotton ovules as models for cotton fiber development under low temperatures. Plant Physiology 95: 88-96.

Haigler, C.H. 1991. The relationship between polymerization and crystallization in cellulose biogenesis. in C. H. Haigler and P. Weimer, eds., Biosynthesis and Biodegradation of Cellulose, New York: Marcel Dekker, pp. 99-124.

Roberts, A.W. and C.H. Haigler. 1990. Tracheary-element differentiation in suspension cultures of Zinnia requires uptake of extracellular Ca2+. Experiments with calcium-channel blockers and calmodulin inhibitors. Planta 180: 502-509.

Roberts, A.W. and C.H. Haigler. 1989. Rise in chlorotetracycline fluorescence accompanies tracheary element differentiation in suspension cultures of Zinnia. Protoplasma. 152: 37-45.

Haigler, C.H. and A.W. Roberts. 1989. Structural aspects of tracheary element differentiation in suspension cultures of Zinnia elegans. In Proceedings of the 47th Annual Meeting of the Electron Microscopy Society of America, G.W. Bailey, ed. San Francisco Press: San Francisco, CA, pp. 768-769.

Haigler, C.H. and H. Chanzy. 1989. Electron diffraction analysis of altered cellulose: Implications for mechanisms of biogenesis. In Cellulose and Wood: Chemistry and Technology, C. Schuerch, ed., John Wiley and Sons: New York, pp. pp. 493-506.

Haigler, C.H. and H. Chanzy. 1988. Electron diffraction analysis of the altered cellulose synthesized by Acetobacter xylinum in the presence of fluorescent brightening agents and direct dyes. Journal of Ultrastructure and Molecular Structure Research 98: 299-311.

Haigler, C.H. and R.M. Brown, Jr. 1986. Transport of rosettes from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane in isolated mesophyll cells of Zinnia elegans during differentiation to tracheary elements in suspension culture. Protoplasma 134: 111-120.

Raikhel, N., B.A. Palevitz, and C.H. Haigler. 1986. Abscisic acid control of lectin accumulation in wheat seedlings and callus cultures. Effects of exogenous ABA and Fluridone. Plant Physiology 80: 167-171.

Haigler, C.H. 1985. The functions and biogenesis of native cellulose. In Cellulose Chemistry and its Applications, S.H. Zeronian and T.P. Nevell, eds., Ellis Horwood: Chichester, England, pp. 30-83.

Brown, R.M., Jr., C. Haigler, J. Suttie, A. White, E. Roberts, C. Smith, T. Itoh, and C. Cooper. 1983. The biosynthesis and degradation of cellulose. Applied Polymer Symposium 37: 33-78.

Brown, R.M., Jr., C.H. Haigler, and K.M. Cooper. 1982. Experimental induction of altered non-microfibrillar cellulose. Science 218: 1141-1142.

Roberts, E.M., R.W. Seagull, C.H. Haigler, and R.M. Brown, Jr. 1982. Alteration of cellulose microfibril formation in eukaryotic cells: Calcofluor White interferes with microfibril assembly and orientation in Oocystis apiculata. Protoplasma 113: 1-9.

Haigler, C.H., A.R. White, R.M. Brown, Jr., and K.M. Cooper. 1982. Alteration of in vivo cellulose ribbon assembly by carboxymethylcellulose and other cellulose derivatives. Journal of Cell Biology 94: 64-69.

Haigler, C.H. and M. Benziman. 1982. Biogenesis of cellulose I microfibrils occurs by cell-directed self-assembly in Acetobacter xylinum. In Cellulose and Other Natural Polymer Systems, R.M. Brown, Jr., ed., Plenum: New York, pp. 273-296.

Haigler, C.H. and R.M. Brown, Jr. 1981. Probing the relationship of polymerization and crystallization in the biogenesis of cellulose I. The Ekman-Days (1981) 5: 14-16 (Proceedings of the International Symposium on Wood and Pulping Chemistry, Stockholm, Sweden, June 9-12). Swedish Paper Chemistry Institute: Stockholm, Sweden.

Benziman, M., C.H. Haigler, R.M. Brown, A.R. White, and K.M. Cooper. 1980. Cellulose biogenesis: Polymerization and crystallization are coupled processes in Acetobacter xylinum . Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 77: 6678-6682.

Haigler, C.H., R.M. Brown, Jr., and M. Benziman. 1980. Calcofluor White ST alters the in vivo assembly of cellulose microfibrils. Science 210: 903-906.