Wolfgang Lukowitz
Associate Professor
Plant Sciences, Rm 4609
Phone Number:  706-542-9252
Office/Lab:  Plant Sciences, Rm 4606
Phone Number: 

Ph.D Developmental Biology and Genetics, University of Tubingen 1996

Research Projects: 

Plants, just like animals, start life as a single cell. This cell and its daughters then need to lay down the reference points required for realizing a complex body plan. We would like to understand the molecular mechanics of this process: which cues do plant embryos read-out and how do they interpret them to derive basic positional values, such as top/bottom, surface/interior? We are studying these questions in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana using a variety of approaches, including genetics, targeted manipulations, and imaging.

The two main projects in the lab revolve around key functions in the early patterning process we have originally identified by mutation: a MAP kinase pathway promoting elongation of the zygote and development of its basal daughter cell into the suspensor; and a family of GATA-type transcription factors required for positioning the boundary between suspensor and proembryo, across which the root is organized.

In addition, we have recently begun to look into the role of a kinesin-5 gene in organizing the microtubule arrays mediating nuclear division and cytokinesis. This new project is driven entirely by undergraduate students.

Grant Support: 
  • National Science Foundation, “Arabidopsis 2010: Regulation of the proembryo boundary in Arabidopsis”; May 2009 – April 2012.
Selected Publications: 
  • Rademacher EH, Lokerse AS, Schlereth A, Peris CL, Bayer M, Kientz M, Rios AF, Borst JW, Lukowitz W, Jürgens G, and Weijers D (2012) Different auxin response machineries control distinct cell fates in the early plant embryo. Dev Cell, 22, 211–222.
  • Jeong, S, Volny M, Lukowitz W (2012) Axis formation in Arabidopsis – transcription factors tell their side of the story. Curr Opin Plant Biol 15, 4–9.
  • Jeong S, Bayer M, Lukowitz W (2011) Taking the first steps: from polarity to axial domains in the early Arabidopsis embryo. J Exp Bot 62, 1687–1697
  • Jeong S, Palmer TM, Lukowitz W (2011) The RWP-RK factor GROUNDED promotes embryonic polarity by facilitating YODA MAP kinase signaling. Curr Biol, 21, 1268–1276
  • Nawy T, Bayer M, Mravec J, Friml J, Birnbaum KD, Lukowitz W (2010) The GATA factor HANABA TARANU is required to position the proembryo boundary in the early Arabidopsis embryo. Dev Cell 19, 103–113.
  • Lampard GR, Lukowitz W, Ellis BE, Bergmann D (2009) Novel and expanded roles for MPK signaling in Arabidopsis stomatal cell fate revealed by cell type-specific manipulations. Plant Cell 21, 3506–3517
  • Bayer M, Nawy T, Giglione C, Galli M, Meinnel T, Lukowitz W (2009) Paternal control of embryonic development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Science 323, 1485–1488.
  • Krupnova T, Sasabe M, Ghebreghiorghis L, Gruber CW, Hamada T, Dehmel V, Strompen G, Stierhof Y-D, Lukowitz W, Kemmerling B, Machida Y, Hashimoto T, Mayer U, Jurgens G (2009) Microtubule-associated kinase-like protein RUNKEL needed for cell plate expansion in Arabidopsis cytokinesis. Curr Biol 19, 518–523
  • Nawy T, Lukowitz W, Bayer M (2008) Talk global, act local - embryonic patterning in Arabidopsis. Curr Opin Plant Biol, 11, 28–33.
  • Bannigan A, Scheible W-R, Lukowitz W, Fagerstrom C, Wadsworth P, Somerville C, Baskin TI (2007) A conserved role for kinesin-5 in plant mitosis. J Cell Sci 120, 2819–2827.
  • Jenik PD, Gillmor CS, Lukowitz W (2007) Embryonic patterning in Arabidopsis thaliana. Ann Rev Cell Biol Dev 23, 207–238.