Sharon Kessler, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
223 George Lynn Cross Hall
770 Van Vleet Oval

B. Sc., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1996
Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2002
Postdoc, Iowa State University, 2004-2005
HFSP Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 2005-2012

Research areas: Plant Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Evolutionary Biology

Kessler Lab Website

Research interests:

Due to their sessile lifestyle, plants rely on intercellular communication to reproduce and thrive in hostile environments. Signaling between cells is especially important during higher plant reproduction. Pollen must be recognized by the female and guided through sporophytic tissues to reach the female gametophytes that are deeply embedded in ovules within the maternal tissues. In addition, the plant must also perceive biotic stresses from other organisms such as fungi and bacteria so that an appropriate response can be mounted. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in signaling between cells is important for the manipulation of plant responses to an ever-changing environment.

As a plant developmental biologist, I use genetics, cell and molecular biology, and biochemistry to study intercellular communication during pollination. In particular, I am interested in the proteins involved in communication between the synergid cells of the female gametophyte and pollen tubes at the final stages of pollen tube reception, using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system. In the course of my post-doctoral research, I discovered that common signaling mechanisms are used for pollen tube reception and powdery mildew infection (Kessler, et al., 2010). In my future research, I hope to use my lab’s research on pollen tube reception to expand the links between these two important processes.

Relevant publications:

Lindner, H., Kessler, S. A., Mueller, L. M., Shimasoto-Asano, H., Boisson-Dernier, A., and Grossniklaus, U. 2015. TURAN and EVAN mediate pollen tube reception in Arabidopsis synergids through protein glycosylation. PLOS Biology 13:e1002139.

Kessler, S. A., Lindner, H., Jones, D.S., and Grossniklaus, U. 2014. Functional analysis of related CrRLK1L receptor‐like kinases in pollen tube reception. EMBO Reports 16:107-115.

Kessler, S. A. and Grossniklaus, U. (2011). She's the boss: signaling in pollen tube reception. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 14:622-627.

Boisson-Dernier, A., Kessler, S. and Grossniklaus, U. (2010). The walls have ears: the role of plant CrRLK1Ls in extracellular signal sensing and propagation. The Journal of Experimental Botany 62:1581-91.

Kessler, S. A., Shimosato-Asano, H., Keinath, N.F., Wuest S.E., Ingram, G., Panstruga, R., and Grossniklaus, U. (2010). Conserved molecular components for pollen tube reception and fungal invasion. Science, 330:968-971.


Contact Us
Phone 405-325-4321
770 Van Vleet Oval

Norman, OK 73019
136 George Lynn Cross Hall
Hours: 8:00 am - 
5:00 pm M-F           Closed For Lunch 12:00 - 1:00

Follow us on Facebook