Palmer, Andrew

Assistant Professor
Biological Sciences

Educational Background

2008     Ph.D., Biological Chemistry, Emory University  

2001     B.S., Biochemistry, Florida State University

Recognition & Awards

2009     NIH Postdoctoral fellow

2005     Howard Hughes Medical Institute Teacher-Scholar

2005     Biological and Biomedical Sciences Award for Excellence in Presentation

2005     Osborne Quayle Award for Excellence in Research

Current Courses

BIO4210: Plant Physiology - The study of the physical, chemical, and molecular processes which occur in plants. Explores events at the molecular level as well as those phenomena which emerge on either the organismal or environmental scale. Provides a broader perspective on the common themes, as well as divergent strategies, for survival that are found in living systems. General topics include: (i) Plant Anatomy and Physiology, (ii) Plant Biochemistry, (iii) Medicinal and Ethnobotany, and (iv) Plant Biodiversity.

BIO4209/BIO5014: Molecular Biology of Plants/Plant Biotechnology - Overview of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the growth, development, functioning, and engineering of plants through reviews of current literature. Labs focus on gene transfer (transformation), identification of transgenic plants, phytohoromone detection, as well as cell and tissue culture.

BIO5029: Chemical Ecology - Chemical Ecology (CE) couples biology and chemistry to determine how small molecules regulate a variety of inter-organismal interactions. CE is concerned with the entirety of the signaling process including signal generation, degradation, transmission, perception, and response. The primary goal of this course is to introduce you to the technologies and techniques available for research in CE along with potential applications (ex: novel antimicrobials). We will compare and contrast a variety of model systems in order to understand how they encode, transfer, and decode small molecule signals.

Professional Experience

2012 -              Assistant Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

2011                Research Scientist, University of Wisconsin Madison

2009 - 2011    Postdoctoral fellow, University of Wisconsin Madison

Current Research

1. Eavesdropping on bacterial 'conversations' - Numerous species of bacteria coordinate their behaviors based on population density, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing (QS). QS behaviors include antibiotic resistance, the production of biofilm 'plaques', and the production of virulence factors that can digest the tissues of propsective host organisms. Not surprinsgly, plants and animals have evolved to detect the signals that modulate QS. Using a plant Arabidopsis thaliana and an algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as hosts, we are investigating these detection and response pathways.

2. Cell wall fragment-based signaling - The production of reactive oxygen species like hydrogen peroxide can oxidize phenolics associated with the cell walls of plants to active signaling molecules in a process known as semagenesis. Semagenesis may have substnatial roles in plant growth, defense, and interorganismal communication. Combining elements of biology and chemistry we have begun to monitor these reactions in real-time at the sites on plant tissues where they occur. We are also mapping the molecualr response network associated with these signals.

3. Inducible competition in plants - Plants display distinct growth responses not only to the presence of different species, but also to members of the same and different subspecies. Such complex social behaviors enhance our appreciation of the complexity of plants and is crucial to understanding the interplay betwen resouce competition and plant growth. By bringing together elements of molecular biology, analytical chemistry, and confocal microscopy we are elucidating this complex plant-plant signaling event.

4. Electrical Signaling - Like other eukaryotes, electrical signals play a variety of important roles in regulating plant responses to external stimuli including growth, circadian rhythms and gravitropism. However, many of these electrical signaling events are poorly understood. Utilizing voltage-sensitive fluorescent probes, microarray technology, and a variety of other analytical tools we are refining our understanding of the complex network of electrical signals at work in plants.

Selected Publications

Palmer, A.G., Senechal A., Mukherjee, A., Much, E., Ané, J.M., Blackwell, H.E. “AHLs modulate plant growth and development through the activity of a fatty acid amide hydrolase” ACS Chemical Biology (2014) dx.doi.org/10.1021/cb500191a

Praneenararat, T., Palmer, A.G., Blackwell, H.E."Chemical methods to interrogate bacterial quorum sensing pathways." Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry (2012) DOI: 10.1039/c2ob26353j

Palmer, A.G., Streng, E., Blackwell, H.E. “Attenuation of virulence in pathogenic bacteria using synthetic quorum-sensing modulators under native conditions on plant hosts” ACS Chemical Biology (2011), 6, 1348-1356

Palmer, A.G., Streng, E., Jewell, K., Blackwell, H.E. “Quorum Sensing in Bacterial Species that Use Degenerate Autoinducers Can Be Tuned Using Structurally Identical Non-Native Ligands” ChemBioChem (2011), 12, 138-147

Palmer, A.G., Chen, M.C., Kinger, N.P., Lynn, D.G. “Parasitic Angiosperms, Semagenesis and General Strategies for Plant–Plant Signaling in the Rhizosphere.” Pest Management Science (2009), 65, 512-519

Palmer A.G., and Blackwell, H.E. “Quorum Sensing, Host Recognition, and the Proto-language of Phenols.” Nature Chemical Biology. (2008), 4, 452-454

Palmer A.G., Liu Y., Adkins S.M., Zhang X., Wu I., Chen X., Lynn D.G. “The Molecular Language of Semagenesis” Plant Signaling and Behavior. (2008), 8, 560-561

Keyes, W.J., Palmer, A.G., Erbil, W.K., Taylor, J.V., Apkarian, R.P., Weeks, E.R., Lynn, D.G. “Semagenesis and the parasitic angiosperm Striga asiatica.” The Plant Journal (2007), 51, 707-716

Palmer A.G., Gao R., Maresh J., Erbil W.K., Lynn D.G. “Chemical Biology of Multi-Host/Pathogen Interactions: Chemical Perception and Metabolic Complementation.” Annual Reviews of Phytopathology (2004), 42, 439-64