Margaret Dietrich


Professor Emeritus of CMB

Office: 3349 Kindschi Hall of Science 

Phone: (616) 331-2816 

Email: [email protected]


B.S. in Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D. in Plant Physiology with Supporting Program in Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arizona

Sabbatical (2009-2010), University of Arizona


Courses taught:

CMB 150 Biotechnology and Society (laboratory)

CMB 250 Introduction to Biotechnology

CMB 501 Scientific Communication

CMB 626 Advanced Nucleic Acids Laboratory

BIO 120 General Biology I (lecture)

BIO 403 Plant Structure and Function (lecture & laboratory)

BIO 405 Cell and Molecular Biology Lecture

BIO 406 Cell and Molecular Biology Lab

BIO 423 Plant Development and Biotechnology

BIO 426 Nucleic Acids Laboratory


Research interests:

Signal transduction in plants; molecular mechanisms underlying the success of invasive species.

My research interests are focused in the areas of plant physiology and development. I am particularly interested in how a plant perceives a signal, whether physiological or environmental, and how such perception leads to altered growth and development. One current project concerns two basic questions underlying developmental biology: what are the earliest events in cell fate determination and what are the mechanisms that allow a cell to change its shape?

To address these, I have been working with two species of moss, Physcomitrella patens and Funaria hygrometrica, to investigate a process in which a hormone (cytokinin)-induced change in cell fate occurs that results in a change from filamentous growth to the establishment of a simple 'meristem' enabling sexual reproduction and completion of the life cycle. The target of cytokinin action is a single cell that is visible under the microscope and amenable to manipulation. I have generated a random insertional mutant which is defective in this change of fate and we believe we have identified the genomic sequence disrupted in the mutant. Future work will be directed at determining the function of this sequence.

This work, as well as the identification of additional putative components of the signaling pathway, will involve the use of multiple approaches: genetic, cellular, molecular, and biochemical. In addition, Dr. Gary Greer (Department of Biology, GVSU) and I have established a collaborative project to look at a similar process occurring in the development of ferns.

Another project focused on plant physiology and development involves an Arabidopsis mutant that is altered in several aspects, among them flowering and a hypersensitivity to the environment. It was originally identified due to an increased sensitivity to salt in the environment. This mutant is defective in a specific calcium-binding protein and we are working to understand the role of this protein in flowering. It appears the protein is involved in both stamen and pistil development and function in the flowers. Here, too, multiple approaches as described above are being employed.


Presentations by GVSU-mentored students at national conferences

Lincoln*, J., Greer, G., and M. Dietrich. Ailanthus altissima increases nodulation in Trifolium pratense: a novel weapon for an invasive species? Poster presentation at Botany 2009, Annual Conference of the Botanical Society of America, Snowbird, Utah, 7/09. (Best Student Poster Award within the Ecology Section.)

Swinehart*, I. and M. Dietrich. Mechanisms underlying hormone-induced changes in plant development - a genetic approach. Poster presentation at the annual conference of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Washington DC, 4/07.

Swinehart*, I. & M. Dietrich. Mechanisms underlying hormone-induced changes in plant development - a genetic approach. Poster presentation at the Annual Conference of the Society of Developmental Biology, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 6/06.

DeVol*, J., Rebert*, A., Greer, G., and M. Dietrich. Investigating the effects of cytokinin on notch development and gender expression. Poster presentation at Botany 2005, Annual Conference of the Botanical Society of America, Austin, Texas, 8/05.

Rebert* , A., DeVol*, J., Greer, G., and M. Dietrich. Blocking the gibberellin pathway inhibits morphological development of the gametophyte of the fern Osmunda regalis. Poster presentation at Botany 2005, Annual Conference of the Botanical Society of America, Austin, Texas, 8/05.


Selected peer-reviewed publications

Greer, G., Dietrich, M.A., DeVol*, J., and A. Rebert*. 2012. The effects of exogenous cytokinin on the morphology and gender of Osmunda regalis gametophytes. Am. Fern J. 102(1):32-46.


Greer, G.K., Dietrich, M.A., Stewart, S., DeVol*, J., and A. Rebert*. 2009. Morphological functions of endogenous gibberellins in filicalean gametophytes: insights into the evolution of form and gender expression. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 159:599-615.

Qui, Q.-S., Guo, Y., Dietrich, M.A., Schumaker, K.S., and J.-K. Zhu. 2002. Regulation of SOS1, a plasma membrane Na+/H+ exchanger in Arabidopsis thaliana, by SOS2 and SOS3. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99(12):8436-8441.

Parks, G.E.P., Dietrich, M.A., and K.S. Schumaker. 2002. Increased vacuolar Na+/H+ exchange activity in Salicornia bigelovii Torr. in response to NaCl. J. Exp. Bot. 53:1055-1065.

Schumaker, K.S., and M.A. Dietrich. 1998. Hormone-induced signaling during moss development. Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. Plant Mol. Biol. 49:501-523.

Schumaker, K.S., and M.A. Dietrich. 1997. Programmed changes in form during moss development. Plant Cell 9:1099-1107.

Van der Schoot, C., Dietrich, M.A., Storms, M., Verbeke, J.A., and W.J. Lucas. 1995. Establishment of a cell-to-cell communication pathway between separate carpels during gynoecium development. Planta 195:450-455.

* GVSU student

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