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Elizabeth  Van Volkenburgh

Professor, Biology

Adjunct Professor of Forest Resources; Divisional Dean for Research College of Arts and Sciences

Contact Information

Phone: 206 543 6286
Fax: 206 685 1728
Mail Stop: 35 5325


We use a variety of physiological techniques and plant species with the aim to discover how leaves grow and how plants use growth responses to adapt to their environment. We focus mainly on leaves: how does light influence leaf expansion and development? We are particularly interested in discovering the specific events involved in both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic signaling pathways leading to cell expansion. This involves identification and characterization of the photoreceptors involved in light perception and signal transduction, the electrophysiological events at the plasma membrane which follow light-perception and the biophysical components of cell expansion and leaf tissue growth.

Often these questiong lead us to other related ones, such as, how do corn plants respond to density stress? What mechanisms allow them to sense density and respond by changing leaf angle? How do Venus Fly Traps close? And how do tendril coil? Students are welcome to bring research projects of their own, and apply our methods to answering diverse questions related to plant growth and adaptation.

Selected Publications

Stahlberg, R., Stephens, N.R., Cleland, R.E., Van Volkenburgh, E. (2006) Shade-induced action potentials in Helianthus annuus L. originate primarily from the epidcotyl. Plant Signaling & Behavior.1: (in press)

Stahlberg, R., Cleland, R.E., Van Volkenburgh, E. (2005) Decrement and amplification of slow wave potentials during their propagation in Helianthus annuus L. shoots. Planta 220:550-558.

Shabala, S., Shabala, L., Van Volkenburgh, E. (2005) Effect of divalent cations on ion fluxes and leaf photochemistry in salinized barley leaves. J. Exptl. Bot. 56:1369-1378.

Stiles, K.A., Van Volkenburgh, E. (2004) Role of K+ in leaf growth: K+ uptake is required for light-stimulated H+ efflux but not solute accumulation. Plant Cell and Environment 27:315-325

Fellner, M., Horton, L.A., Cocke, A.E., Stephens, N.R., Ford, E.D., Van Volkenburgh, E. (2003) Light interacts with auxin during leaf elongation and leaf angle development in young corn seedlings. Planta 216: 366-376.

Plant Growth Lab

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