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Department of Molecular Biology

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Anne Sylvester

Anne W. Sylvester

Developmental Genetics
Office: 224 AnSci/MOLB
Phone:(307) 766-4993
Fax (307) 766-5098


Ph.D., University of Washington, 1987.
M.S., University of Washington,1982.
B.S., cum laude, University of Washington, 1980.
Professor of Botany, 1999


General Biology, Plant Anatomy, General Genetics, Plant Developmental Genetics and Plant Morphogenesis

Research Emphasis

Plant development is both cyclic and progressive because new leaves are continually generated at shoot apical meristems until flowering. As leaf primordia emerge from the meristem, organized cell divisions and expansions give rise to juvenile and adult leaves progressively. We are investigating the molecular and cellular control of this process using maize as a model grass system. Our research focuses on identifying genes that control cell division and expansion during early stages of leaf formation in maize and on understanding evolutionary adaptation of the associated morphological traits across diverse grass systems, including rice, sugarcane and bluegrass. Using a forward genetic screen, we have identified several cell pattern mutations, including warty1, which causes a mottled, wart-like texture to the maize leaf due to uncontrolled cell expansion. Warty1 was transposon-tagged and shown to encode RAB2A1, a small GTP binding protein involved in vesicle trafficking in mammalian, yeast and plant systems. The gene is differentially regulated during leaf development and we hypothesis that the protein is involved in shuttling vesicles associated with wall growth and expansion. Our lab is currently testing this hypothesis using cell biology methods, microarray analysis and forward and reverse genetics to identify interacting partners in the RAB network. As part of the functional studies, we are generating protein-tagged lines in maize that can be used for localization studies and cell biology experiments. More information can be found at our project website at

Research is supported by NSF and DOE

Representative Publications

  • Zhang, J, Hill, DR and AW Sylvester (2007) Diversification of the RAB GTPase family in dicots and monocots

  • Zhang, J, Sylvester, AW, Dingquin, L, Zuepiao, S. (2006) Complementation and expression analysis of SoRab1A and SoRab2A in sugarcane demonstrates their functional diversification, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, JIPB 48: 1450-1457

  • Sylvester, AW, Zhang J, Cui P, and AF Nielson. Modulation of cell expansion during maize leaf development by WARTY1, a gene encoding a RAB2 protein (in revision)

  • Caspersen, A and AW Sylvester. Analysis of endoreduplication during normal and mutant cell growth in maize (in revision)

  • Mitkovski, M and Sylvester AW (2003) Analysis of cell patterns in developing maize leaves: Dark-induced cell expansion restores normal division orientation in the mutant tangled. Int. J Plant Sci. 164(1) 113-124

  • Sylvester, AW, Parker-Clark, V and G. Murray (2001) Leaf shape and anatomy as indicators of phase change in the grasses: comparison of maize, rice and bluegrass Amer. J. Bot. 88:2157-2167

  • Sylvester, AW (2000) Division decisions and the spatial regulation of cytokinesis.  Current Opinions in Plant Biology 3:58-68

  • Sylvester, AW and JO Reynolds (1999) Annual and biennial flowering habit of Kentucky blue grass tillers. Crop Science 39:500-508

  • Herbert, SK, AW Sylvester and CF Weil (1999) Plant Biology in the Laboratory. Bellweather Cross Publishing. 187 pages

  • Reynolds, JO, Eisses JF and AW Sylvester (1998) Balancing division and expansion during maize leaf morphogenesis: Analysis of the mutant, warty-1. Development 125:259-268

  • Sylvester, AW (1998) Tiller class distribution in Kentucky bluegrass. GSCSSA Report 98:48-52

  • Sylvester, AW (1997) Optimizing tiller class distribution in greenhouse-grown plants and non-burned fields of Kentucky bluegrass. GSCSSA Report 97:53-56

  • Smith, L, Hake, S and AW Sylvester (1996) The tangled -1 mutation alters cell division orientation throughout leaf development without altering leaf shape. Development 122:481-489

  • Sylvester, AW, Smith, L and M Freeling (1996) Acquisition of identity in the developing leaf. Ann Rev Cell Develop Biol 12:257-304

  • Sylvester, AW (1996) Identification of morphological markers for the transition to flowering in Kentucky bluegrass as an aid to crop management. GSCSSA Report 96:49-53

  • Sylvester, AW and S Ruzin (1994) Light Microscopy I: Dissection and Microtechnique. and II. Image analysis. In The Maize Handbook Walbot. V. E. and Freeling, M. (eds). Springer-Verlag, NY. pp. 83-107

  • Ruzin, S and AW Sylvester (1994) Light Microscopy II: Image analysis. In The Maize Handbook. Walbot, V. E. and Freeling , M. (eds). Springer-Verlag, NY. pp. 95 – 107

  • Williams, MH and AW Sylvester (1994) Scanning Electron Microscopy. In The Maize Handbook. Walbot, V. E. and Freeling, M. (eds). Springer-Verlag, NY. pp. 108-117

  • Sylvester, AW and JR Waaland (1992) Cytoplasmic reorganization accompanies the deposition of a bipolar cell wall in Anotrichium tenue. Planta 186:273-281

  • Sylvester, AW (1992) A review of The Cytoskeletal Basis of Plant Growth and Form.  C. Lloyd (ed) Plant Sci. Bull. 38: 32-33

  • Sylvester, AW, Cande WZ and M. Freeling (1991) Developmental morphology of maize leaves using UV light-induced autofluorescence of cell wall compounds. Maize Genetics Cooperative Newsletter 65:34-35

  • Sylvester, AW, Cande, WZ and M Freeling (1990) Division and differentiation during normal and liguleless-1 maize leaf development. Development 110:985-1000

  • Becraft, PB, Bongard-Pierce, D, Sylvester, AW, Poethig, S and M Freeling (1990) The liguleless-1 gene acts tissue specifically in maize leaf development.  Developmental Biology 141:220-232

  • Sylvester, AW, Williams, MH and PB Green (1989) Orientation of cortical microtubules correlates with cell shape and division direction. Immunofluorescence of intact epidermis during development of Graptopetalum paraguayensis. Protoplasma 153:91-103

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Department of Molecular Biology

University of Wyoming

Department #3944

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-3300

Fax: (307) 766-5098


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