Ethylene plant hormone signaling

The ability to respond to a vast array of external and internal cues such as light, gravity, and hormones is essential for plant growth, development, and survival. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which plants perceive signals and convert this information into physiological changes. The signal we have been focusing on is ethylene (C2H4), a simple gaseous molecule that has profound effects on many aspects of plant growth and development, including fruit ripening, senescence, abscission and responses to biotic and abiotic stress. Our research utilizes a combination of molecular genetics, cell biology, proteomics and transcriptomics to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms of ethylene signaling using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

In collaboration with Charles Delwiche (University of Maryland, College Park), we have also investigated the evolution of plant hormones focusing on the charophyte green algae, the closest living relatives of land plants. Charophytes and land plants shared a common ancestor more than 450 million years ago.

More recently, we have uncovered novel signaling by the well known precursor of ethylene, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), a small molecule that is readily converted to ethylene in seed plants.


Our lab is one of more than a dozen research labs working with Arabidopsis at the University of Maryland at College Park (and nearby at University of Maryland at Baltimore County and Howard University). The campus is located in the vibrant Washington DC metro region.

May 2020



Eliana Herman wins the departmental award for the best undergraduate Honors Thesis for her thesis titled: "Biosynthesis and Role of ACC vs Ethylene in Marsilea vestita"(


Recent Papers

Li et al. (2020) Ethylene-independent functions of the ethylene precursor ACC in Marchantia polymorpha. Nat. Plants 6, 1335-1344.


Mou et al. (2020) Ethylene-independent signaling by the ethylene precursor ACC in Arabidopsis ovular pollen tube attraction. Nat. Comm. 11, 4082.