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Amy Brunner

Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics

B.S., College of Wooster (Biology), 1982; M.S., Vanderbilt University (Molecular Biology), 1984; Ph.D., Oregon State University (Forest Science, Genetics), 1998


Interest Areas: Genomics of tree development, ecophysiology and adaptation; molecular genetics of tree maturation, flowering and crown architecture; epigenetic mechanisms and small RNAs in trees; long-distance signaling in trees.

Selected Research Activities
  • Poplar functional and comparative genomics to identify genes and regulatory networks important for tree growth, productivity and carbon sequestration.  Our overall goal is to identify poplar regulatory genes that act as major genetic control points for tree growth, development and responses to the environment, and demonstrate how this information can be used to produce trees with modified qualities important to carbon sequestration, such as root and shoot architecture, root-shoot biomass ratio, and cell wall chemistry. We are using oligonucleotide microarrays to comprehensively characterize the expression of the poplar genome during tree development and response to environmental stimuli. This approach, combined with bioinformatics and comparative genomic analysis, will be tested by transgenic manipulation of genes predicted to play critical roles in root and shoot development.
  • Functional genomics of maturation and flowering in poplar.  In trees, numerous morphological and physiological traits of ecological and economic importance exhibit juvenile and mature phases that are maintained for years. These include wood and leaf characteristics, crown architecture, pest resistance and rooting ability. The most obvious developmental phase change is the transition to flowering. To identify the genes and genetic pathways controlling these changes, we use microarray expression analysis, transgenic manipulation of genes, and comparative genomic analysis.
Selected Publications
  • Wei, H, Meilan, R, Brunner, AM, Skinner, JS, Ma, C, Gandhi, H, and Strauss, SH 2006. Cytotoxin attentuation effectiveness of barstar in Populus trees expressing a poplar LEAFY:barnase sterility transgene. Molecular Breeding (in press).
  • G. Tuskan, S. DiFazio, J. Bohlmann, I. Grigoriev, U. Hellsten, S. Jansson, N. Putnam, S. Ralph, S. Rombauts, A. Salamov, J. Schein, L. Sterck, A. Aerts, R.R. Bhalerao, R.P. Bhalerao, D. Blaudez, W. Boerjan, A. Brun, A. Brunner, +93 co-authors. 2006. The genome of black cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa (Torr. & Gray ex Brayshaw). Science (in press)
  • Bohlenius H, Huang T, Charbonnel-Campaa L, Brunner AM, Jansson S, Strauss SH, Nilsson O. 2006. CO/FT regulatory module controls timing of flowering and seasonal growth cessation in trees. Science 312:1040-3.
  • Filichkin, S.A., Wu, Q., Busov, V.B., Meilan, R., Lanz-Garcia, C., Groover, A.T., Goldfarb, B., Ma, C., Dharmawardhana, P., Brunner A.M., and Strauss, S.H. 2006. Enhancer trapping in woody plants: isolation of a putative AT-hook motif transcription factor ET304 and characterization of the expression patterns conferred by its promoter in transgenic Populus and Arabidopsis. Plant Sci. 171: 206-216.
  • Filichkin, SA, R. Meilan, V.B. Busov, C. Ma, A.M. Brunner and S.H. Strauss.  2006.  Alcohol-inducible gene expression in transgenic PopulusPlant Cell Rep. 25:660-7.
  • Wei H, R Meilan, AM Brunner, JS Skinner, C Ma, SH Strauss. 2006. Transgenic sterility in Populus: Expression properties of the poplar PTLF, Agrobacterium NOS, and two minimal 35S promoters in vegetative tissues. Tree Physiol. 26:401-410.
  • Howe GT, and AM Brunner. 2005. An evolving approach to understanding plant adaptation. New Phytol. 167:1-5.
  • Busov, V.B., A.M. Brunner, R. Meilan, S. Filichkin, L. Ganio, S. Gandhi, and S.H. Strauss. 2005. Genetic transformation: A powerful tool for dissection of adaptive traits in trees. New Phytol. 167: 9-18.
  • Strauss, S.H., A.M. Brunner, V. Busov, C. Ma, and R. Meilan. 2004. Ten lessons from 15 years of transgenic Populus research. Forestry 77: 455-465.
  • Brunner, A.M. and Nilsson, O. 2004. Revisiting tree maturation and floral initiation in the poplar functional genomics era. New Phytol. 164: 43-51.
  • Sterky, F., R.R. Bhalerao, P. Unneberg, B. Segerman, P. Nilsson, A.M. Brunner, L. Campaa, J. Johanson Lindvall, K. Tandre, S.H. Strauss, B. Sundberf, P. Gustafsson, M. Uhlen, R.P. Bhalerao, O. Nilsson, G. Sandberg, J. Karlsson, J. Lundeberg, and S. Jansson. 2004. A Populus EST resource for functional genomics. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 101: 13951-13956.
  • Brunner, A.M., Yakovlev, I.A., and S.H. Strauss. 2004. Validating internal controls for quantitative plant gene expression studies. BMC Plant Biology 4: 14.
  • Andersson, A., J. Keskitalo, R. Bhalerao, A. Sjodin, F. Sterky, K. Wissel, K. Tandre, R. Moyle, Y. Ohmiya, R. Bhalerao, A. Brunner, P. Gustafsson, J. Karlsson, J. Lundeberg, O. Nilsson, G. Sandberg, S. Strauss, B. Sundberg, M. Uhlen, S. Jansson and P. Nilsson. 2004. A transcriptional timetable of autumn senescence. Genome Biology 5: R4.
  • Brunner, A.M., Busov, V.B., and Strauss, S.H. 2004. Poplar genome sequence: functional genomics in an ecologically dominant plant species. Trends Plant Sci.9: 49-56.
  • Strauss, S.H., and A. M. Brunner. 2004. Tree biotechnology in the 21st century: Transforming trees in the light of comparative genomics. The Bioengineered Forest: Challenges for Science and Society, S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, Eds. Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. pp. 76-96.
  • Meilan, R., Ellis, D., Pilate, G., Brunner, A., and Skinner, J. 2004. Accomplishments and challenges in genetic engineering of forest trees. The Bioengineered Forest: Challenges for Science and Society, S.H. Strauss and H.D. Bradshaw, Eds. Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. pp 36-51.
  • Campbell, M.M., A.M. Brunner, H.M. Jones, and S. H. Strauss. 2003. Forestry’s Fertile Crescent: The application of biotechnology to forest trees. Plant Biotech. J. 1: 141-154.
  • Brunner, A.M., W.H. Rottmann, L.A. Sheppard, K. Krutovskii, S.P. DiFazio, S. Leonardi and S.H. Strauss. 2000. Structure and expression of duplicate AGAMOUS orthologs in poplar. Plant Mol. Biol. 44: 619-634.
  • Sheppard, L.A., A.M. Brunner, K.V. Krutovskii, W.H. Rottmann, J.S. Skinner, S.S. Vollmer and S.H. Strauss. 2000. A DEFICIENS homolog from the dioecious tree Populus trichocarpa is expressed in both female and male floral meristems of its two-whorled, unisexual flowers. Plant Physiol. 124: 627-639.
  • Rottmann, W.H., R. Meilan, L.A. Sheppard, A.M. Brunner, J.S. Skinner, C. Ma, S. Cheng, L. Jouanin, G. Pilate and S.H. Strauss. 2000. Diverse effects of overexpression of LEAFY and PTLF, a poplar (Populus) homolog of LEAFY/FLORICAULA, in transgenic poplar and Arabidopsis. Plant J. 22: 235-246.
Professional Achievements
  • Board of Advisors for New Phytologist, 2005-present
  • Scientific Planning Committee for IUFRO Tree Biotechnology 2005 Conference in Pretoria, South Africa
  • Invited participant, DOE Joint Genome Institute’s Poplar Jamboree, an annotation workshop for the Populus trichocarpa genome, 2004
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University
  • Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, 2005
  • Member, American Society of Plant Biologists

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