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 responses. The signal we have been focusing on is the plant hormone 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 to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms of ethylene signaling using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. With collaborators, we have also used proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and electrophysiology.

We are also interested in the evolutionary history of ethylene as a plant hormone. Using a combination of transcriptomics and functional studies in freshwater Charophycean green algae (the closest living relatives of land plants), we were able to show conservation of the ethylene signaling pathway for at least 450 million years.

More recently, we have obtained evidence that the immediate precursor of ethylene, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), has signaling functions that are independent of its role in ethylene biosynthesis. We are interested in identifying ACC responses in various model plants and elucidating the ACC signaling pathway using approaches similar to those used above. 

News (May 2022)

Sophomore LIZBETH SANCHEZ was awarded the CBMG Norman Laffer Scholarship for research excellence! She also received a SACNAS Travel Scholarship to present her research at the National Diversity in STEM Conference
Graduating senior SAMANTHA SMITH (CBMG Honors Student) received CBMG's Appleman-Norton Award for excellence in Plant Biology!

Some Recent Papers

Li et al. (2021) Something old, something new: conservation of the ethylene precursor ACC as a signaling molecule. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 65: 102116.

doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2021.102116

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: