Plant & Microbial Biology

University of California, Berkeley


The Department of Plant and Microbial Biology consists of the Division of Plant Biology and the Division of Microbial Biology. Programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have been designed to offer students maximum flexibility in defining their own areas of interest. In addition to departmental resources that are available in Koshland Hall, the facilities of the College of Natural Resources Biological Imaging Facility and the United States Department of Agriculture Plant Gene Expression Center are available for the programs of the department.

The Division of Plant Biology

The Division of Plant Biology program emphasizes basic research and its application to plants and promotes the design of plant biotechnologies. With an increasing awareness of environmental problems, global changes, and emerging food needs, plants are a focal point for new research initiatives and educational training programs. Understanding the biology of plants, their development, their responses to the environment, and the impact of human activities on the plant biosphere are many of the challenges that will continue to fuel the expansion of plant biology research well into the twenty-first century.

The Division of Microbial Biology

The Division of Microbial Biology was established within the department to provide a focus for microbial biology at UC Berkeley. There is a growing awareness that microbes and microbial activities are essential to maintaining a high quality of life for all eukaryotes. Moreover, understanding the microbial world is necessary if we are to comprehend the global ecosystem, evolutionary history, and diversity of life on earth. The twenty-first century will bring a new understanding of the workings of the global ecosystem and a wealth of new technologies derived from the microbial world. The new microbial biology research programs are designed to meet this challenge.

Undergraduate Programs

Genetics and Plant Biology: BS
Microbial Biology: BS

Graduate Programs

The department and affiliated graduate group offer the following graduate degrees:
Microbiology: PhD
Plant Biology: PhD

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Related Courses

Plant and Microbial Biology

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Barbara Baker, Adjunct Professor. Biochemistry, genetics, signal transduction, plant and microbial biology, biolomolecular mechanisms of plant resistance to microbial disease, plant pathogen recognition, plant resistance to pathogen diseases, tobacco mosaic virus, agriculture and crops.
Research Profile

Benjamin Blackman, Assistant Professor. Evolution, adaptation, domestication, phenotypic plasticity, flowering time, evo-devo, genomics, plant biology.

Rachel B. Brem, Associate Professor. Genetics of regulatory variation.
Research Profile

Steven Brenner, Professor. Molecular biology, computational biology, evolutionary biology, bioengineering, structural genomics, computational genomics, cellular activity, cellular functions, personal genomics.
Research Profile

Thomas D. Bruns, Professor. Microbial biology, plant biology, fungi, nucleic acid sequences, basidomycetes, ectomycorrhizal fungi communities.
Research Profile

John Coates, Professor. Environmental microbiology, Bioremediation, alternative energy production, biogeochemistry.
Research Profile

Devin Coleman-Derr, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Plant, Microbiome, Environmental Stress, Drought, Sorghum.
Research Profile

+ Lewis J. Feldman, Professor. Microbial biology, plant biology.
Research Profile

Robert L. Fischer, Professor. Plant and microbial biology.
Research Profile

Jennifer C. Fletcher, Adjunct Professor. Molecular biology, genetics, gene regulation, stem cells, plant development.
Research Profile

Michael Freeling, Professor. Genetics, genomics, plants, trends in evolution.
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Karine Gibbs, Associate Professor. Microbial genetics and development, identity in social bacteria.

N. Louise Glass, Professor. Biofuels, biotechnology, fungal genetics, fungal cell biology.
Research Profile

Britt Glaunsinger, Associate Professor. Virology, gene expression, herpesvirus.
Research Profile

Igor V. Grigoriev, Adjunct Professor. Genomics, fungi, algae, eukaryotes, computational biology, bioinformatics, genome annotation.
Research Profile

Yangnan Gu, Assistant Professor. Plant immunity and cell biology.

Sarah Hake, Adjunct Professor.

Frank Harmon, Associate Adjunct Professor.

Russell L. Jones, Professor. Plant and microbial biology.
Research Profile

Arash Komeili, Professor. Microbiology, Biomineralization, bacterial organelles, Magnetic Nanoparticles.
Research Profile

Ksenia Krasileva, Assistant Professor. Plant immunity, genomics and innate immune systems.

Peggy G. Lemaux, Cooperative Extension Specialist.

Jennifer Lewis, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Plant-pathogen interactions, plant immunity, type III effector proteins.
Research Profile

Steven E. Lindow, Professor. Microbial ecology, microbial biology, plant biology, plant frost control, bacterial plant diseases, plant disease epidemiology.
Research Profile

Sheng Luan, Professor. Microbial biology, plant biology.
Research Profile

Ceci Martinez-Gomez, Assistant Professor. Lanthanide-biochemistry and metabolism. Microbial Physiology, Metabolic Engineering, Plant-microbe interactions, bioremediation and biometallurgy.

Sheila Mccormick, Adjunct Professor. Molecular biology, genetics, pollen, plant reproduction.
Research Profile

Anastasios Melis, Professor. Photosynthesis, Metabolic Engineering, bioenergy.
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Sabeeha Merchant, Professor. Elemental economy, photosynthesis and comparative algal genomics.

Krishna K. Niyogi, Professor. Genetics, plant and microbial biology, algae, photosynthesis, antioxidants.
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Daniel A. Portnoy, Professor. Mammalian cells, molecular and cellular basis of microbial pathogenesis, defense against infection, listeria monocytogenes, cell biology of infection, mechanisms of secretion.
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Peter Quail, Professor. Plant biology, plant and microbial biology.
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Kathleen Ryan, Associate Professor. Bacterial cell cycle regulation, signal transduction, and regulated proteolysis.
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Henrik Scheller, Adjunct Professor. Biofuels, polysaccharides, plant cell walls, biochemistry, plant biotechnology, glycosylation.
Research Profile

Kimberly Seed, Assistant Professor. Interactions between bacteria and their viral predators (bacteriophages).
Research Profile

Patrick Shih, Assistant Professor. Synthetic biology, plant metabolism, microbial evolution. .

Chris Somerville, Professor. Biochemistry, biotechnology, bioenergy, cell biology, biofuels, cell walls, polysaccharides, cellulose, arabidopsis, cellulose synthase.
Research Profile

Shauna Somerville, Professor. Powdery mildew disease, cell wall integrity sensing, plant-fungal interactions, plant cell walls.
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Brian J. Staskawicz, Professor. Biotechnology, plant and microbial biology.
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Zinmay Sung, Professor. Plant biology, plant and microbial biology.
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Michiko Taga, Assistant Professor. Molecular biology, genetics, microbial biology, chemical biology, cofactors, nutrient exchange, microbial communities.
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John Taylor, Professor. Evolution, fungi, phylogenomics, mycology, population genomics.
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Norman Terry, Professor. Phytoremediation, Bioremediation, environmental cleanup, soil and water, plant biology, microbial biology.
Research Profile

Matthew Traxler, Assistant Professor.

John Vogel, Adjunct Professor.

Mary Wildermuth, Associate Professor. Plant-pathogen interactions.
Research Profile

Ben Williams, Assistant Professor. Plant epigenetics and cell identity.

Patricia Zambryski, Professor. Microbial biology, plant biology, plant intercellular communication via plasmodesmata, Agrobacterium, bacterial type IV secretion.
Research Profile

Daniel Zilberman, Associate Professor. Developing science and tech solutions at the food, energy, and water nexus for under-resourced communities.

Emeritus Faculty

Bob B. Buchanan, Professor Emeritus. Biotechnology, environmental policy, plant biology, thioredoxin.
Research Profile

Andrew Jackson, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

111 Koshland Hall

Phone: 510-642-9999

Visit Department Website

Chair, Plant and Microbial Biology

Sheng Luan, PhD

Phone: 510-642-6306

Associate Chair

Britt Glaunsinger, PhD

Head Graduate Advisor

Arash Komeili

Phone: 510-642-2217

Graduate Student Advising

Lyn Rivera

111 Koshland Hall Berkeley, CA 94704

Phone: 510-642-5167

Department Coordinator

Rachel Kallett

Phone: 510-643-7614

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