UVA Biology People Timko

Michael Timko

Lewis & Clark Chair of Biology, Director of Undergraduate Program in Human Biology
044 Gilmer Hall
(434) 982-5817
Lab: (434) 982-5779


  • B.S., Rutgers, 1975
  • M.S.., Rutgers University, 1978
  • Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1980
  • Postdoctoral Research, Brandeis University, 1980-1982
  • Postdoctoral Research, Rockefeller University, 1982-1986

Research Interests

Our research is conducted at the cellular and organismal level using a wide range of  biochemical, molecular, and genomic approaches in the laboratory and  in silico (computational/ bioinformatic). Our interest can be divided into three main themes. The first focuses on understanding the molecular components and signaling pathways that govern the interaction of the parasitic angiosperms Striga and Alectra with their host species.  Through comparative functional genomics we are defining the host defense components and parasite virulence effectors underlying compatible and incompatible host-parasite association. These studies also include an examination of the evolution of parasitism in the Orobanchaceae as a way of determining what makes parasitism in angiosperms an attractive life-history option. A second area of research focuses on the phytohormonal and developmental regulation of secondary metabolism in plants, with a particular emphasis on nicotine and related alkaloids in tobacco. By targeted manipulation we are attempting to define a cause and effect relationship between the presence of specific plant alkaloid constituents and their derivatives in tobacco smoke, tobacco smoke condensates, or smokeless tobacco extracts and their effects on human cellular function leading to disease using differentiated bronchial and oral cell cultures as models. The final area of work in the lab centers on the development and use of herbal and probiotic-based therapeutics and nutraceuticals for the treatment of human disease.

For more information about research interests, visit my lab webpage.

Representative Publications

  • Shen, Y., Wolkowicz, M.J., Kotova, T., Fan, L., and Timko, M.P. (2016). Transcriptome sequencing reveals e-cigarette vapor and mainstream-smoke from tobacco cigarettes activate different gene expression profiles in human bronchial epithelial cells. Scientific Reports, 6:23984, doi 10.1038/srep23984.
  • Ma, H., Wang, F., Wang, W., Yin, G., Zhang, D., Ding, Y., Timko, M.P., and Zhang, H. (2016). Alternative splicing of basic chitinase gene PR3b is regulated in part by the NIC loci in the low-nicotine mutants of Nicotiana tabacum. L. cv. Burley 21. J Exp. Bot., doi:10.1093/jxb/erw345.
  • Yang, Z., Zhang, Y., Wafula, E., Honaas, L.A., Ralph, P.E., Jones, S., Clarke, C.R., Liu, S., Su, C., Zhang, H.,  Altman, N.S., Schuster, S.C., Timko, M.P., Yoder, J.I.., Westwood, J.H., and de Pamphilis, C.W. (2016). Horizontal gene transfer is more frequent with increased heterotrophy and contributes to parasite adaptation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., (USA) E7010–E7019, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608765113.
  • Omoigui, L.O., Kamara, A.Y., Alunyo, G.I., Bello, L.L., Oluoch, M., Timko, M.P., and Boukar (2016). Identification of new sources of resistance to Striga gesnerioides and Alectra vogelii in cowpea accessions. Plant Genet. Res. and Crop Evol.,  doi 10.1007/s10722-016-0410-3.
  • Muñoz-Amatriaín, M., Mirebrahim, H., Xu, P., Wanamaker, S., Luo, M-C., Alhakami, H., Alpert, M., Atokple, I., Batieno, B.J., Boukar, O., Bozdag, S., Cisse, N., Drabo, I., Ehlers, J.D., Farmer, A., Fatokun, C., Gu, Y.Q., Guo, Y-N., Huynh, B-L., Jackson, S.A., Kusi, F., Lawley, C.T., Lucas, M.R., Ma, Y., Timko, M.P., Wu, J., You, F., Roberts, P.A., Lonardi, S., and Close, T.J. (2016). Genome resources for climate-resilient cowpea, an essential crop for food security. Plant J., doi: 10.1111/tpj.13404.
  • Yan, N., Zhang, H., Zhang, Z., Shi, J., Timko, M.P., Du, Y., Liu, X., and Liu, Y. (2016). Organ- and growing stage-specific expression of solanesol biosynthesis genes in Nicotiana tabacum reveals their association with solanesol content. Molecules, 21, 1536; doi10.3390molecules21111536