Ben Montpetit

Ben Montpetit

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Viticulture and Enology


Montpetit, an assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, specializes in microbiology, cell biology, and genetics. He completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of British Columbia and conducted postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2016.

Research interests:

Cell biology, biochemistry, gene regulation, RNA biogenesis and RNA transport in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Brief overview:

Within the cells of our body is a compartment called the nucleus, which protects and organizes the genetic material, or DNA, encoding much of the information required for life. In order to access that information, cells copy small sections of the genetic code to a related material called RNA, which can be moved through specialized “tunnels,” or nuclear pore complexes, connecting the nucleus to the rest of the cell. How does RNA move through nuclear pore complexes? What proteins are involved? How does stress affect the process? These are the types of questions we seek to understand about RNA transport by studying this highly conserved process in a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Stress disrupts RNA transport and yeast often experience heat- or ethanol-related stress during industrial applications such as fermentation or biofuel production. This work has direct implications for enology, shedding light on yeast behavior and viability during wine fermentation. Furthermore, our studies with yeast can provide insight into the role alteration in RNA transport play in human health.

Current projects:

  • Investigating how messenger RNA transport changes in response to stress.
  • Developing tools to observe RNA transport in living cells.