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Robert G Shatters (Bob)

Research Molecular Biologist

Robert Shatters, Ph.D.
Research Molecular Biologist

U. S. Horticultural Research Laboratory
2001 South Rock Road
Fort Pierce, FL 34945
Telephone: (772) 462-5912
Fax: (772) 462-5986

Current Research Projects:      

Dr.Dr. Shatters' lab conducts research on multitrophic interactions among plants, phytophagous insect pests and plant diseases that spread due to activity of these pest insects (either insect vectoring or opportunistic invasion of microbes into feeding damaged sites).The central theme of this research is the identification and characterization of genes that may be valuable in raising resistance/tolerance levels to pests and diseases in agriculturally important horticultural crops. Research focus is on tomato-whitefly-geminivirus interaction and on the Diaprepes root weevil a polyphagous pest in citrus and many horticultural plants. Genomics and molecular research methods are applied to study how insects successfully evade plant defenses, identify important physiological process in the insect that are necessary for vectoring disease, and characterize insect immunity functions that improve pest insect fitness. Dr. Shatters also works collaboratively to use genomics research to study populatmics of invasive pest to understand genetic diversity and correlations of this diversity with host preference, insecticide resistance, disease vectoring, and efficacy of biocontrol and baiting strategies. Ultimately research discoveries will be used to harness natural mechanisms and substances that can be used in environmentally friendly control strategies to reduce yield-loss resulting from insect infestations. In citrus, delivery systems to existing groves as well as development of improved varieties are being pursued. Dr. Shatters has genetically engineered plants containing such genes and these plants are currently under evaluation. Many of his research programs are in collaboration with pathologists, entomologists, and population biologists.

Project Titles:

Whitefly Genomics:
Whitefly EST/transcriptome research on the vectoring of plant pathogenic begomoviruses.

  • Antimicrobial Gene Discovery: Use insect/plant genomic research to discover novel genes that encode antimicrobial proteins that can be used to prevent insect disease vectoring.
  • Developing Novel Control Strategies for the Diaprepes Root Weevil (DRW): Determine how the DRW successfully evades plant defenses and develop mechanisms to prevent this.


  • USDA, NRI Whitefly Genomics Workshop Grant, 2005.

  • The Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) funded a research grant proposal titled "Functional genomics characterization of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci begomovirus interactions: an EST and array-based transcript profiling approach" in the amount of $330,000 (3 yr) in 2003. (Senior co-PI).
  • USDA, CSRES funded competitive research grant: "Evaluation of a Diaprepes Control Strategy Utilizing Transgenic Rootstocks Expressing an Insect Digestive Inhibitor". Three year continuous award: 2003, $45,000; 2004, $95,000; 2005, $100,000. (Collaborating Scientist).
  • The Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council funded a research grant titled "Development of bacterial entomopathogens for control of DRW larvae in commercial groves" as part of a Diaprepes Block Grant for $32,000 in FY 2002-03. (co-PI).
  • The Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council funded a research grant titled "Lethal male strategy for management of the Diaprepes root weevil" as part of a Diaprepes Block Grant for $36,000 in FY 2002-03. (co-PI).
  • The Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council funded a research grant titled "Transgenic Rootstock Strategies for Introduction of Resistance to Diaprepes abbreviatus for $37,000 . (Sole PI).
  • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. Dairy Association Grant: Improving nutritional quality and insect resistance of Florida adapted silage corn through genetic engineering. $12,000, 17,000, $21,000, $21,000, respectively. (Senior co-PI). 

    International Collaborations:  

  • Spain: Microarray analysis of citrus response to pest insects and insect-disease complexes.
  • Colombia: Discovery of new antimicrobial and insect resistance genes.
  • Israel: Whitefly genomics.

    Select Publications (Last 10 years): ?Student author; ??, postdoctoral research associate author)

    Shatters, Jr., R. G. and S. H. West. 1995. Response of Digitaria decumbens Stent leaf carbohydrate levels and glucan degrading enzymes to chilling night temperature.  Crop Science 35: 516-523. 

    Shatters, Jr, R. G, M. E. Schweder, S. H. West, R. L. Smith. 1995. Environmentally induced polymorphisms detected by RAPD analysis of soybean seed DNA. Seed Science Research 5: 109-116.

    ?Schweder, M. E., R. G. Shatters, Jr, and S. H. West. 1995. Effect of transition interval between melting and annealing temperatures on RAPD analyses. BioTechniques 19: 38-42.

    Shatters, R. G., R. A. Wheeler, E. Wynn, S. H. West. 1995. Developing gene introduction techniques for warm-season forage grasses. Proceedings of the 51st Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference. Pg 37-43. (Peer reviewed proceedings chapter).

    Shatters, Jr., R. G., and S. H. West. 1996. Purification and characterization of extrachloroplastic "-1,4-glucan phosphorylases form leaves of Digitaria decumbens Stent. Journal of Plant Physiology, 149: 501-509.

    Mankin, R. W., L. K. Wojcik, T. Fukuda, R. R. Heath, D. L. Kline, >R. G. Shatters, Jr, R. K. Vander Meer, and D. P. Wojcik. 1996. A commitment to the future: science education outreach. American Entomologist. 42: 244-247.

    Shatters, Jr., R. G, S. P. Boo, J. B. Franca Neto, and S. H. West. 1997. Identification of biotinylated proteins in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] seeds and their characterization during germination and seedling growth. Seed Science Research. 7: 373-376.

    Fran?a Net, J. B., R. G. Shatters, Jr., and S. H. West. 1997. Developmental patterns of biotinylated proteins during embryogenesis and maturation of soybean seed. Seed Science Research 7: 377-384.

    Shatters, Jr., R.G., R. A. Wheeler, and S. H. West. 1998. Ethephon induced changes in Vegetative growth of `Tifton 85' bermudagrass. Crop Science. 38: 97-103.

    Muhitch, M. J., and R. G. Shatters, Jr. 1998. Regulation of the maize ubiquitin (Ubi-1) promoter in developing maize (Zea mays L.) Seeds examined using transient gene expression in kernels grown in vitro. Plant Cell Reports 17: 476-481.

    West, S. H. and R. G. Shatters, Jr. 1999. Deterioration of Soybean Seed. Brazilian Soybean Congress. Brazilian Soybean Congress. EMBRAPA, Londrina, Brazil. 17-20. May 1999.(Proceedings).

    Shatters, Jr., R. G., R. K. Vander Meer. 2000. Characterizing the interaction between fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Developing Soybean Plants. Journal of Economic Entomology, 93 (6): 1680-1687.

    ?Grando, M. F., R. G. Shatters, Jr., C. I. Franklin. 2002. Optimizing Embryogenic Callus Production and Plant Regeneration from Tifton 9 Bahiagrass (Paspalun notatum Flugge) Seed Explants for Genetic Manipulation. Plant Cell Tissue And Organ Culture, v. 71, p. 213-222.

    R. G. Shatters, Jr, H. Doostdar, S. D. Lee, M. Inbar, and R. T. Mayer.2002. Effect of geminivirus infection and Bemisia infestation on accumulation of Pathogenesis-related proteins in tomato. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 49:203-214.

    Mayer, R. T., M. Inbar, C. L. McKenzie, R G. Shatters, Jr., V. Borowicz, U. Albrecht, C. A. Powell, and H. Doostdar. 2002. Multitrophic interactions of the silverleaf whitefly, host plants, competing herbivores, and phytopathogens. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 51(4): 151-169.

    Smith, R. L., M. F. Grando, Y. H. X. LI, and R. G. Shatters, Jr. 2002. Transformation of Bahiagrass Paspalum notatum Flugge). Plant Cell Reports 20: 1017-1021.

    Bausher, M., R. G. Shatters, Jr., J. Chaparro, P. Dang, W. Hunter, and R. Niedz. 2003. An Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) set from Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck Whole seedlings and the Implications of Further Perennial source Investigations. Plant Science 165: 415-422.

    Hunter, W. B., P. M. Dang, M. G. Bausher, J. X. Chaparro, W. McKendree, R. G. Shatters, Jr., C.L. McKenzie, and X.H. Sinisterra. 2003. Aphid biology: Expressed genes from alate Toxoptera citricida, the brown citrus aphid. J Insect Science. 3:23-30.

    Niedz, R. P., W. L. McKendree, and R. G. Shatters, Jr. 2003. Electroporation of Embryogenic Protoplasts of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck) and Regeneration of Transformed Plants. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plant 39 (6): 586-594.

    Shatters, Jr, R. G., M. G. Bausher, W. B., Hunter, J. X. Chaparro, P. M. Dang, R. P. Nieda, R. T. Mayer, T. G. McCollum, X. Sinisterra. 2004. Putative protease inhibitor gene discovery and transcript profling during fruit develomplemt and leaf damage in grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) Gene 326: 77-86.

    ?Grando M. F., R. L. Smith, C. Moreira, B. T. Scully, R. G. Shatters, Jr.2005. Developmental changes in abundance of the VSPbeta protein following nuclear transformation of maize with the soybean vspbeta cDNA. BMC Plant Biology 5:3.

    ??Sinisterra X. H., C. L. McKenzie, W. B. Hunter, C. A. Powell, R. G. Shatters, Jr. 2005. Differential transcriptional activity of plant-pathogenic begomoviruses in their whitefly vector (Bemisia tabaci, Gennadius: Hemiptera Aleyrodidae). J Gen Virol. 86:1525-32.

    Shatters, Jr., R. G., L. M. Boykin, S. L. Lapointe, W. B. Hunter, and A. A. Weathersbee III. 2005. Phylogenetic and Structural Relationships of PR5 Gene Family Reveals an Ancient Multigene Family Conserved in Plants and Select Animal Taxa. Journal of Molecular Evolution (Accepted 07/11/2005).

    McKenzie, C. L., X. H. Sinisterra, C. A. Powell, M. Bausher, J. P. Albano, R. G. Shatters, Jr. 2005. Deciphering changes in plant physiological response to whitefly feeding using microarray technology. Acta Horticulturae (Accepted 11/8/04).