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Sharon A Kessler

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Associate Professor of Plant Biology
765.494.8330
765.494.0363
WSLR Room 124

 General Information

Dr. Kessler’s research explores the molecular mechanisms behind plant reproduction.  In angiosperms, successful pollination depends on intercellular communication between the male gametophyte (also known as the pollen tube) and pistil cells as the pollen lands on the stigma and sends out a pollen tube that travels through the transmitting tract of the style to reach the ovary.  The synergid cells of the female gametophyte (also known as the embryo sac) emit signals to attract pollen tubes and then communicate with the pollen tubes so that they know when to cease tip growth and burst to release the sperm cells so that double fertilization can occur to produce viable seeds.  The Kessler Lab takes a molecular genetic approach to understand how the specialized cells of the female reproductive tract develop and function, with a focus on the ovules and the stigma.  Our studies with the Arabidopsis thaliana MLO protein NORTIA and the receptor-like kinase FERONIA have shown that the final stages of pollination shares similar molecular mechanisms with plant-pathogen interactions. We are using NORTIA as an anchor molecule to learn more about the intricate signaling mechanism that takes place in the ~30-minute “communication phase” when the pollen tube arrives at the ovule and prepares to release the sperm cells. 

Featured research highlight article:

https://ag.purdue.edu/stories/pollination-a-classic-tale-of-romance-love-and-death/

Botany and Plant Pathology, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4614

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