John Fowler Jr

Professor
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Office: 541-737-5307 x5295

Cordley Hall

Cordley Hall 4071/4066

2701 SW Campus Way

2701 SW Campus Way
Corvallis, OR 97331

Plant cell and developmental biology.

  • My primary research interest is in the molecular mechanisms that govern cellular morphogenesis and development in plants.  Specifically, I am interested in how the regulation of two cellular processes – cell polarity and exocytosis – is integrated into developmental systems at the organismal scale.  My lab is currently using a variety of complementary techniques in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology and (more recently) bioinformatics and ‘omics-scale approaches to investigate these processes.  Our focus is on two models:  the root of Arabidopsis thaliana, including tip-growing root hairs and meristems, and the male gametophyte of Zea mays, including germinating pollen and the growing pollen tube.  Recently, we have focused on: 1) the role of the eight-protein exocyst complex, which is thought to be involved in vesicle trafficking and exocytosis, and its putative regulators (e.g., ROP GTPases); and 2) using ‘omics approaches to inform a system’s level understanding of pollen development and function.  Use of both dicot and monocot models helps insure that our work is relevant across the plant kingdom.

 

Images of plasmolyzed maize leaf cells, illustrating plasma membrane attachment to the surrounding cell wall.  Fluorescent images are of a Green Fluorescent Protein fusion that has been targeted to the cell's plasma membrane by a unique signal present in the maize ROP7 protein.

 

New Pollen Tube Growth Video from the Fowler Lab

Time-lapse imaging of a recently germinated, growing maize pollen tube, over the course of 10 minutes.  Yellow corresponds to the fluorescence of the YFP-ROP2 fusion protein, which helps control the polarized growth of the cell, and is dynamically localized near the tube apex.  Blue corresponds to the autofluorescence of the pollen grain from which the pollen tube is growing. Imaging by Quinn DeYoung, an undergraduate, and Dr. Rex Cole, on a Zeiss LSM 780 microscope system at OSU’s Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing (http://cgrb.oregonstate.edu/core/microscopy-imaging/microscopy).

 

Research Group Members

Faculty Research Assistants/Associates

  • Zuzana Vejlupkova

Graduate Students

  • Matt Warman (PhD, expected 2020)

Undergraduate Research Students

  • Quinn DeYoung
  • Cesar Juarez

Undergraduate Lab Assistant

  • Matt Borchers
  • Quinn DeYoung
  • Peter de Roos

Genetic Engineering and Crop Plants

In 2014, I was asked to serve on a College of Agricultural Sciences committee seeking to provide an academic, fact-based view of the current understanding of agricultural biotechnology.  This coincided with the vote in Oregon on 'GMO' labeling, and was intended to be useful information for voters in the state.  The committee was composed of scientists across a range of disciplines at OSU, and the five white papers produced by the committee are at http://agbiotech.oregonstate.edu/agbiotech/about.  The topics covered include not only the basic biology related to GMO's, but also food safety, how social benefits can be assessed, and how the topic relates to human values.

For clarity and evaluation of possible conflicts of interest, I provide a bit about my background and current position:

Counting my undergraduate, I have 30+ years of training in genetics and plant biology, and see myself as almost exclusively doing research in basic biological sciences.  My salary is paid completely by the University – I get no salary from outside grants or contracts.  My lab has been funded by grants from federal agencies – the National Science Foundation, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  I do not have any patents, nor do I see any likely to come in the future, based on my research area.  I have never received any funds from a corporation for myself, my projects, my travel or my lab.

To the best of my memory, my connections to corporations are minimal, and, as follows: I have several friends and scientific colleagues that work in seed/biotech companies (e.g., Pioneer Dupont).  I have one ongoing (but mostly dormant at this time) collaboration with Pioneer, in which they supplied my lab with resources – specifically, lines of maize harboring particular mutations – that allowed us to deduce some genetic function for certain genes (publication at http://www.genetics.org/content/165/4/2137.abstract).  If this collaboration were to be ended, it would not be a major disruption to my lab's current research.  Part of my lab's work is on maize (corn), a major crop, but I am interested in it primarily as a model for discovering new biological knowledge, not as a focus for 'crop improvement'.

Profile Field Tabs

At OSU
Affiliated with: 
Ag Botany / Plant Path
Student(s): 
Courses Taught: 

BI 211 Principles of Biology, Fall Term

MCB 555 Genome Expression and Regulation, Winter Term