Mortar and pestle

Crushing Plants in the Lab

Marissa and China
Carine Marshall (Left) and Frank Harmon (Right)

Arabidopsis (Fletcher Lab)

Jana Hassan of the Lewis Lab works with samples
Tester Slide II

PGEC Greenhouse

China Lunde working with a developing corn ear

arabidopsisThe Plant Gene Expression Center (PGEC) conducts fundamental research in plant molecular biology. Researchers are elucidating the signal transduction pathways responsible for the perception of environmental and cellular cues. We are exploring disease resistance, light perception, the circadian clock, vegetative growth and the plant-associated microbiome. Essential genes and the networks within which they operate are elucidated using molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches.

The PGEC is a collaboration of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Plant & Microbial Biology Department of the University of California, Berkeley. The Center's principal investigators are faculty at UC Berkeley, and research opportunities are available in our laboratories for graduate and undergraduate students.

Two New Papers Published from Quail Lab

A collaboration with Elena Monte, a former postdoc in the Quail Lab and now a professor in Barcelona, has yielded two new manuscripts, one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, and one in Nature Communications. The manuscripts address how the circadian clock and light signaling pathways converge, and how signaling between the chloroplast and nucleus affect a key regulator of a light-induced transcriptional network. The PNAS paper was highlighted in Faculty1000, a website ( that features notable papers. Click "Read more" for details. Posted 05/08/2016.

Arrivals and Departures

Annis Richardson has joined the Hake lab as a postdoctoral fellow. She did her Ph.D. with Enrico Coen at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England. She will apply her expertise in modeling to the maize leaf projects in the Hake lab. Peter DiGennaro, currently a postdoc in the Fletcher Lab, will be leaving at the end of May. He obtained a tenure track faculty position in Molecular Nematology at the University of Florida, in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. His last day in the lab will be May 31, and he and his family will be moving to Gainesville in June. Posted 05/05/2016.

Kudos to Baker Lab Undergraduates

Noah Gardner is the Plant and Microbial Biology Citation Recipient for 2015-2016, for distinguished undergraduate work. Noah did his Honors Thesis Project, "Modulation of Plant Innate Immunity through DCL4-dependent miRNAs", in the Baker lab. In May 2015, Jackie Wright received the Melis Medal for her Outstanding Research Presentation of her Honors Thesis Project, "Novel miRNAs in the Regulation of Plant Innate Immunity", at the CNR Honors Symposium. Jackie was also awarded a Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) student-initiated project ($2000) for research in the Baker lab, which included a travel award to attend the 2014 Cell Symposium: Regulatory RNAs, organized by Jennifer Doudna and Richard Gregory. Click "Read more" to find out what Noah and Jackie are doing now. Posted 04/30/2016.

Six (!) PMB Graduate Students join PGEC Labs

Martin Alexander and Brianna Haining joined the Hake Lab, Thai (Dat) Dao joined the Fletcher Lab, and Tuesday Simmons, Grady Pierroz and Heidi Wipf joined the Coleman-Derr Lab. Both Martin and Tuesday were recently awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, and Brianna, Grady and Heidi received Honorable Mentions in the NSF Fellowship competition. Click "Read more" to find out about their proposed Ph.D. projects. Posted 04/29/2016.

PGEC Summer Intern will attend Stanford

Rena Jiang, a high school student from Lynbrook High School in San Jose, was a research intern in the Fletcher Lab in summer 2015. Rena will attend Stanford University, starting in fall 2016. Posted 04/29/2016.

Lewis Awarded NSF Grant

Jennifer Lewis is the Principal Investigator for a three year, $550,000 grant, from NSF's Division of Integrative Organismal Systems, titled "Natural diversity and mutant analysis of regulators of plant immunity for rational design of immunity proteins as decoys". Click "Read more" for a summary of the project. Posted 03/22/2016.

Welcome to PMB Rotation Students

First year graduate students in the Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC-Berkeley spend 10 weeks each in 3 different labs, before selecting a home for their thesis project. For the third rotation period, we have 2 students, both were PMB undergraduates: Grady Pierroz is in the Coleman-Derr Lab, and Martin Alexander is in the Hake Lab. Posted 02/08/2016.

PGEC Retreat in Honor of Sheila McCormick's Retirement

The PGEC held a retreat at the Marconi Center in Marshall, CA, on December 4-6, in honor of Sheila McCormick's retirement (effective January 8, 2016). Dr. Alice Cheung, Univ. Massachusetts, a colleague of Sheila's who also works on pollen, was the keynote speaker. As is typical of PGEC retreats, there were fantastic talks from each of the labs, a lively poster session, games, and oyster eating, but there were some special events too: a song performed by Sarah Hake and Peter Quail (lyrics adapted by Peter for "Sweet Little Sheila", by Tommy Roe), and a few speeches, most notably by our former colleague at the PGEC, Dr. Sakis Theologis. Sheila continues as an Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology, UC-Berkeley. Click "Read more" to see some pictures from the event, and the lyrics to the song. Posted 01/21/2016; updated with pictures on 02/04/2016.


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