Plant Systems: Cell Biology and Genomics

Why study plants?

Plant biology research is entering an exciting new era at the frontier of scientific discovery, contributing significantly to solving major societal and environmental challenges and receiving substantial funding from the government and private investment.

Plants have long provided oxygen, food, fiber, fuel, minerals, and medicines for human and animals. Basic plant research is increasingly essential for generating knowledge that will improve the environment, provide renewable energy, sustain our food supply, and produce new medicines.

In September 2009, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a widely-anticipated report "A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution" presented to Congress and the President. This report identifies four major societal challenges: food, energy, environment, and health. Plant research in "plant development, growth and productivity, plant tolerance of extreme condition, and plant adaptation to climate change" is critical in addressing these grand challenges.

Plants such as Arabidopsis thalianaOryza sativa (rice), populus, Fragaria vesca (diploid strawberry), Physcomitrella patens (moss) have become excellent and diverse model systems for addressing fundamental questions on plant growth, development, signaling, defense,and evolution.

News & Events

  • Charles Hawkins (CBMG, Liu Lab) and Jenny Shemansky (CBMG, Chang Lab) defended their dissertations during spring 2016. Congrats Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Shemansky!

  • Rachel Shahan (MOCB, Liu Lab) was awarded the prestigious NIFA Graduate Fellowship. Congrats Rachel!

  • John Clay (MOCB, Chang Lab) was awarded the Carroll E. Cox Award for the Outstanding Graduate Student in Plant Biology. Yay John!

Plant Systems Faculty

An anther of wild type  Arabidopsis  with DR5::YFP. Photo courtesy of Dr. Zhongchi Liu

An anther of wild type Arabidopsis with DR5::YFP. Photo courtesy of Dr. Zhongchi Liu

Recent Publications

Bram Van de Poel, Endymion D. Cooper, Dominique Van Der Straeten, Caren Chang, and Charles F. Delwiche
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 Physiology 2016 172: 533-545.

Ju C, Van de Poel B, Cooper ED, Thierer JH, Gibbons TR, Delwiche CF, Chang C. Conservation of ethylene as a plant hormone over 450 million years of evolution. Nature Plants. 2015 Jan 08; 1(1):14004

Charles Hawkins, Julie Caruana, Erin Schiksnis, and Zhongchi Liu (2016) Genome-scale DNA variant analysis identifies a SNP that underlies the yellow fruit color in wild strawberry. Scientific Report Jul 5;6:29017. doi: 10.1038/srep29017

Why study plants at the University of Maryland?

Graduate education in plant biology at Maryland offers several unique advantages.

Faculty Research Areas

Plant faculty members study a wide range of research topics ranging from basic fundamental research to agriculture and biotechnologies. These topics include:

Many faculty members are well funded by government agencies including USDA, NSF, NIH, DOE, National Security Agency. (For a list of all participating faculty, click here.)