Lynn Pillitteri , PhD
Professor & Chair · she/her/hers
My research focuses on plants! My love of plants started with some inspiring professors in college at the University of New York, Binghamton and continued afterwards as I worked a few years after graduation at a local landscaping nursery learning the basics of plant horticulture. Working at the nursery made me think a lot of the enormous variety in plant traits like leaf shape, root systems, colors, flowers, size, cold resistance (the list goes on and on). All of these observations made me realize I was very interested in learning more about how plants develop, so I applied to graduate school and studied the physiology of fruit set and ripening in Washington navel orange at the University of California, Riverside. I had supportive mentors and labmates and loved the weeks of orange and avocado harvests when we could come home with buckets of each (lots of fresh OJ and guacamole). While in graduate school, I was able to meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds and perspectives. I realized through courses and thoughtful discussions that I had a deep interest in the molecular processes underlying plant development; this is what I continue to investigate in my lab here at WWU with the help of both graduate and undergraduate students.
Beyond the lab and research, I’m a mom, wife and cat owner. My family loves to travel when possible, both near and far. We try and spend lots of time outdoors and enjoy hiking and downhill skiing, so the PNW is a really great fit for us. Sometimes I feel like am the only person in Bellingham that doesn’t kayak, but do I get out on Galbraith for mountain biking with friends when I can and enjoy the great views from trails.
Plant genetics, Developmental mechanisms, Transcriptional regulation, Microscopy
The broad research interest of the lab is to explore the molecular underpinnings of developmental processes. I use the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, as a system to investigate some of the genes involved in cell division and cell-type differentiation. Why does a cell differentiate instead of divide? To investigate these processes, we use tools from molecular biology, microscopy, and reverse genetics. We are currently investigating the transcriptional regulation of key regulators involved in the production of small pores on the surface of all land plants called stomata. These structures allow for efficient gas and water exchange between the plant and it environment. New discoveries in the lab may take us into investigating root development and stomata function as well.
Educational & Professional Experience
2002 - Ph.D. Plant Genetics, University of California, Riverside.
1997 - M. S. Plant Biology, University of California, Riverside.
1993 - B. S. Biology, State University of New York at Binghamton.
2019 - present, Professor - Western Washington University
2014 - 2019, Associate Professor of Biology - Western Washington University
2009-2014, Assistant Professor of Biology - Western Washington University
2003-2009, Postdoctoral Fellow/Researcher - University of Washington
Bold, undergraduate authors
Valente, A.S., Tutone, M., Brodie, E., Peper, H. and L.J. Pillitteri (2018). T-DNA associated reciprocal translocation reveals differential survival of male and female gametes. Submitted: Plant Gene.
Becerra, B.J, Narvaez-Vasquez, J., Pillitteri, L.J., Orozco-Cardenas, M., Tang and C.J. Lovatt (2017). Identification of cis-regulatory elements related to water-deficit and low-temperature stress within the promoter of Citrus sinensis APETALA1. Citrus Res & Tech 37:138-146
Pillitteri, L.J., Guo, X., and J. Dong (2016). Asymmetric cell division in plants: mechanisms of symmetry breaking and cell fate determination. Cell Mol Life Sci 73; 4213-4229. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-016-2290-2
Mahoney, A.K., Anderson, E.M, Bakker, R.A., Williams, A.F., Flood, J.J., Sullivan, K.C., and L.J. Pillitteri (2016). Functional analysis of the Arabidopsis thaliana MUTE promoter reveals a regulatory region sufficient for meristemoid-specific expression. Planta 243; 987-998. DOI:10.1007/s00425-015-2445-7
Pillitteri, L.J. and J. Dong (2013). Stomatal development in Arabidopsis. The Arabidopsis Book. e0162. 10.1199/tab.0162.
Pillitteri, L.J. and K.U. Torii (2012). Mechanisms of stomatal development. Annual Review of Plant Biology 63:591-614.
Pillitteri, L.J., Peterson, K.M., Horst, R.J., and K.U. Torii (2011). Molecular profiling of meristemoids reveals new component of asymmetric cell division and commonalities among stem-cell populations in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 23:3260-3275.