Michael P. Timko

Lewis & Clark Professor of Biology, Professor of Public Health Science, Director of Human Biology Distinguished Major Program
280 Gilmer Hall
(434) 982-5817
Lab: (434) 982-5779


  • Rutgers University, College of Agriculture,  B.S., with High Honors, 1975
  • Rutgers University,  Ph.D., 1980
  • Brandeis University, Postdoctoral Associate, 1980-1982
  • Rockefeller University, Postdoctoral Associate, 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

  • Qiu J, Zhou Y, Mao L, Yu Y, Ye C, Zhang J, Wang W, Fu F, Wang Y, Qian F, Qi T, Wu S, Sultana MH, Cao Y- N, Wang Y, Timko MP, Ge S, Fan L, Lu Y (2017) Genomic variation associated with local adaptation of weedy rice during de-domestication. Nature Communications 8: 15323, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15323
  • Yang Y, Yan P, Yi C, Li W, Chai Y, Fei L, Gao P, Zhao H, Wang Y, Timko MP, Wang B, Han S (2017) Transcriptome-wide analysis of jasmonate-treated BY-2 cells reveals new transcriptional regulators associated with alkaloid formation in tobacco. J Plant Physiol. 215: 1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2017.05.004
  • Guo L, Qiu J, Ye C, Jin G, ….., Timko MP, Bai L, and Fan L (2017) Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli) genome analysis provides insight into its adaptation and invasiveness as a weed. Nature Communications 8:1031 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01067-5
  • Ohlson EW, Seido SL, Mohammed S, Santos CAF, and Timko MP (2018) QTL Mapping of ineffective nodulation and nitrogen utilization related traits in the IC-1 mutant of cowpea. Crop Science 58:1– 9. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2017.07.0439
  • Jiang W, Shen Y, Ding Y, Ye C, Zheng Y, Zhao P, Liu L, Tong Z, Zhou L, Sun S, Zhang X, Teng L, Timko MP, Fan L, and Fang W (2018) A naive Bayes algorithm for tissue origin diagnosis (TOD-Bayes) of synchronous multifocal tumors in the hepatobiliary and pancreatic system. International Journal of Cancer 142: 357-368 DOI: 10.1002/ijc.31054
  • Misra V, Wang Y, and Timko MP (2017) A compendium of transcription factors and transcriptionally active protein gene families in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.). BMC Genomics 18:898; DOI 10.1186/s12864-017-4306-1
  • Kusi F, Padi FK, Obeng-Ofori D, Asante SK, Agyare RY, Sugri I, Timko MP, Koebner R, Huynh B-L, Santos JRP, Close TJ, and Roberts PA (2017) A novel aphid resistance locus in cowpea identified by combining SSR and SNP markers. Plant Breeding DOI: 10.1111/pbr.12563
  • Jiang W, Zhang X, Chu Q, Lu S, Zhou L, Lu X, Liu C, Mao L, Ye C, Timko MP, Fan L and Ju H (2018) The circular RNA profiles of colorectal tumor metastatic cells. Frontiers Genetics 9:34. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00034
  • Omoigui LO, Danmaigona CC, Kamara AY, Ekefan EJ, and Timko MP (2018) Genetic analysis of Fusarium wilt resistance in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata Walp.). Plant Breeding 137, 773-781  DOI: 10.1111/pbr.1262
  • Chhabra P, Spano AJ, Bowers D, Ren T, Moore DJ, Timko MP, Wu M, and Brayman KL (2018) Evidence for the role of the cecal microbiome in maintenance of immune regulation and homeostasis. Annals of Surgery 268:541-549
  • Ohlson EW, Thio GI, Sawadogo M, Sérémé P and Timko MP (2018) Quantitative trait loci analysis of brown blotch resistance in cowpea variety KN1. Molecular Breeding 38: 110; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11032-018-0867-1