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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.

Fall 2017



John Clay wins best grad student poster at 34th Annual Mid-Atlantic Plant Molecular Biology Society Meeting August 2017.


Recent Papers

Nishiyama T. et al. (2018) The Chara Genome: Secondary Complexity and Implications for Plant Terrestrialization. Cell 174: 448-464.

Chang C., Bowman J.L., Meyerowitz E.M. (2016) Field guide to plant model systems. Cell 167: 325–339.

Van de Poel B. et al. (2016) Transcriptome profiling of the green alga Spirogyra pratensis (Charophyta) suggests an ancestral role for ethylene in cell wall metabolism, photosynthesis and abiotic stress responses. Plant Physiol 172: 533-545. (featured on the cover).

Ju C. et al. (2015) Conservation of ethylene as a plant hormone over 450 million years of evolution. Nature Plants 1: Article 14004

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University of Maryland

Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics

Bioscience Research Building #413

College Park, MD 20742





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