Cynthia Denbow

Instructor

Program Focus

The overall goal of my research is to improve the understanding of the role of epigenetics in stress responses.  My present funded research is focusing on changes in histone modifications and DNA methylation occurring at promoter regions of plasticity-related genes in the hypothalamus of young chickens in response to feed intake stress (fasting).  Research indicates that these changes may result in alterations that provide protection later on in life if challenged with that same stress. This current project was funded through a Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund (BARD) between Israel and the U.S. One Ph.D. student will complete his studies on this project this semester. One journal article has been published on these findings with two others in preparation.

In addition, I am beginning a new research collaboration looking into the role of long-term epigenetic effects following drought stress on peanut seed germination and early plant vigor and short-term stress acclimation to water deprivation.  The role of histone modifications in the regulation of gene expression of transcription factors and their downstream targets involved in physiological parameters such as stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, and transpiration, during drought stress and recovery will be studied.   Information gleaned from this research may aid in the development of more drought tolerant peanuts for our region.  

My last area of interest involves the use of plants as sources of potential medicinal compounds. Plants produce many secondary metabolites for their own protection against many pathogens and pests.  These compounds have many known uses as flavorings, medicines, cosmetics and perfumes, to name but a few.  Because of the misuse of existing antimicrobials and subsequent increases in resistance of organisms to these compounds, finding new antimicrobial agents is very important.  We are screening a variety of plants as sources for these compounds by determining if they possess antibacterial activities against some common pathogen and food-borne bacterial pathogens.  We will also look for plant compounds with activities against plant pests such as nematodes and a few selected plant fungal pathogens.

Current Projects

Epigenetic Adaptation:  The Regulatory Mechanisms of Hypothalamic Plasticity That Determine the Stress-Response Set Point. BARD. Amount $300,000.

Education

Ph.D., Plant Physiology, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, 1997

M.S., Physiology, North Carolina State University, 1980

B.S., Zoology and Poultry Science, North Carolina State University, 1977

Experience  

  • June 2014 - Present: Laboratory and Research Manager, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • July 2010 – Jun3 2014: Advanced Instructor, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • July 2008 - June 2010: Instructor, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • July 1997 – June 2008: Research Scientist, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • July 1986 – June 1997: Laboratory Specialist Senior Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • November 1984 – June 1986: Laboratory Specialist A, Dairy Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • February 1981- November 1984: Laboratory Specialist A, Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • January 1980- February 1981: Laboratory Technician A, Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

Selected Major Awards  

  • 2009 – Certificate of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, for outstanding teaching in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • 2009 – Master Online Instructor Certificate. Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
  • 1994 – JoAnne A. Ridpath Award – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, for Outstanding Performance as a Classified Employee
  • Huff K., R. Boyer, C. Denbow, S. O’Keefe, and R. Williams. 2012. Survival of Salmonella enterica on the surface and internal components of jalapenos. J. Food Protection. 75(2):382-388.
  • Xu, P. C. Denbow, N. Meiri, and D. Denbow, 2011. Fasting of 3-day-old chicks leads to changes in histone methylation status. Physiology and Behavior. 105:276-282.
Cynthia Denbow
  • 540-231-1656
  • cdenbow@vt.edu
  • 511 and 512 Latham Hall
    Mail Code: 0390
    Blacksburg, VA 24061
    United States
    540-231-1656