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Thomashow, Michael

Thomashow, Michael

University Distinguished Professor
MSU Foundation Professor

A.B., 1972, University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D., 1978, University of California, Los Angeles
Postdoctoral Fellow 1978-1981, University of Washington

306 Plant Biology Lab
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
 Phone: (517) 355-2299


Many plants and microorganisms increase in freezing tolerance in response to low nonfreezing temperatures, a phenomenon known as cold acclimation. Our long term goal is to understand the molecular basis of this adaptive response and to use this information to improve the low temperature tolerance of agriculturally important plants. Much of our work is currently focused on the function and regulation of a family of cold-regulated Arabidopsis genes designated COR. Our recent results indicate that the COR genes are involved in stabilizing membranes against freeze-induced damage and that a family of cold-regulated transcriptional activators -CBF1, CBF2 and CBF3- are involved in regulating COR gene expression. Indeed, consttutive overexpression of CBF1 in transgenic Arabidopsis plants induces COR gene expression at normal growth temperatures and increases the freezing tolerance of nonacclimated plants. Our current research goals are to determine how plants sense low temperature and relay this information to activate CBF and COR gene expression and to determine wheter the CBF genes can be used to increase the freezing tolerance of agronomic plants.

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