Donna E. Fernandez

Donna E. Fernandez

Professor of Botany
B215 Birge Hall
Ph.D. (1987) University of Colorado-Boulder
Plant cell and developmental biology, molecular aspects of plant reproduction
Fernandez's Lab



My primary interest is in the molecular and cellular basis of developmental transitions in plants. In past projects, we investigated the role of MADS domain factors in the regulation of flowering time, floral organ abscission, and pollen growth and development. In current projects, we are investigating protein sorting during plastid biogenesis. Plastids are transformed from relatively undifferentiated proplastids into a variety of differentiated forms (chloroplasts, chromoplasts, amyloplasts, etc.) through changes in protein composition and membrane organization. This is mediated by targeting and translocation systems that ensure the proteins are directed to the right place at the right time. We typically use Arabidopsis for these studies because of its power as a genetic system.


 plastid biogenesis  diagram of flowering time regulation pollen growth and development
Plastid biogenesis
Regulation of
flowering time
Pollen growth and


I regularly teach Introductory Biology (Bio 151/153), as well as Plant Cell Biology (Bot 860, spring semester, even-numbered years) and Regulatory Aspects of Plant Development (Bot 840, fall semester, even-numbered years). Students interested in independent study opportunities in the lab should contact me at

Selected recent publications:

Singhal, R. and D.E. Fernandez (2017). Sorting of SEC translocase SCY components to different membranes in chloroplasts. J. Exp. Bot. (in press).

Li, Y., J.R. Martin, G.A. Aldama, D.E. Fernandez, and K. Cline (2017). Identification of putative substrates of Sec2, a chloroplast inner envelope translocase. Plant Physiol. 173: 2121-2137.

Li, Y., R. Singhal, I. Taylor, P. McMinn, X. Chua, K. Cline, and D.E. Fernandez (2015). The Sec2 translocase of the chloroplast inner envelope contains a unique and dedicated SECE2 component. Plant Journal 84: 647-658.

Fernandez, D.E., C.-T. Wang, Y. Zheng, B.J. Adamczyk, R. Singhal, P.K. Hill, and S.E. Perry (2014). The MADS-domain factors AGAMOUS-LIKE15 and AGAMOUS-LIKE18, along with SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE and AGAMOUS-LIKE24, are necessary to block floral gene expression during the vegetative phase. Plant Physiol. 165: 1591-1603.