Gregg Howe is a plant biologist recognized for his work on plant-herbivore interactions. He is particularly known for his discoveries related to wound-inducible plant defense responses, metabolism of the signaling molecule jasmonate, and the molecular mechanism of jasmonate perception. Gregg grew up in Old Saybrook, Connecticut and, when he was 9 years old, moved with his family to Raleigh, North Carolina. He received B.A. and M.S. degrees in Biology from East Carolina State University and then worked for two years in the plant biotechnology industry. Gregg obtained his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles. He conducted postdoctoral work at Washington State University and then joined the faculty at Michigan State University. Gregg is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

The Howe laboratory uses genetic, biochemical, and molecular approaches to address the regulatory basis of induced plant defense responses to herbivory and wound stress. As a highly dynamic form of plant immunity, the wound response confers resistance to a broad range of arthropod herbivores in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Their research used tomato and Arabidopsis as model systems to identify genes involved in the biosynthesis and perception of the lipid-derived signal jasmonate. These studies helped to establish the paradigm of jasmonate as a central regulator of plant defense against herbivores and other pests. Their lab has also contributed to the elucidation of key steps in the jasmonate signaling pathway, including the discovery of JAZ transcriptional repressor proteins, identification of jasmonoyl-isoleucine as the receptor-active form of the signal, and characterization of the jasmonate co-receptor complex. Their research further delineated several mechanisms to attenuate jasmonate responses and to understand the molecular basis of tradeoffs between growth and defense. In other research the Howe laboratory established the importance of glandular trichomes in plant anti-insect defense and discovered hyperstable plant enzymes that degrade essential amino acids in the insect gut. Their recent research begins to address the question of how elevated temperature associated with climate variability impacts plant-herbivore interactions.

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Primary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology

Secondary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences