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Charles Anderson

Charles Anderson

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Associate Professor of Biology

410 Life Sciences
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814)863-4736
Lab Address: 414 Life Sciences
Lab Phone: (814) 863-4779



  1. B.S., Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  2. Ph.D., Cell & Molecular Biology, Stanford University

Postdoc Training

  1. University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests

Our lab studies plant cell wall dynamics, with the goal of informing efforts to produce sustainable food, materials, and bioenergy from plants. We use in vivo imaging and cell biological, molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches in the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Physcomitrella patens to investigate three biological processes:

De novo cell wall formation

During division, each plant cell rapidly builds a new double-sided cell wall. These new walls are initially structurally and compositionally distinct from existing cell walls, but mature progressively over time. However, many of the details of this maturation process are unknown. Characterizing the molecular events and dynamics of new cell wall formation and maturation and identifying the genes responsible for these processes is critical to understanding the development of plant structure at the cellular, tissue, and organismal levels.

Cell wall modification

Primary plant cell walls are amazing structures that expand along with the cells they encase while withstanding the immense forces generated by turgor pressure. Our lab measures structural and compositional changes in growing cell walls using advanced imaging techniques, focusing on two classes of biopolymers: cellulose, which is the major load-bearing component of the cell wall, and pectins, which help form the matrix within which cellulose is embedded. We have identified and are characterizing a collection of mutants with enhanced cell growth in order to identify new genes that function in cell wall modification.

Cell wall degradation

Genetic and biochemical evidence indicates that plants degrade specific components of their cell walls during cell growth. The extent to which this degradation influences cell wall growth, cell signaling, and intracellular metabolism is not fully understood. Analyzing these degradative processes using cell biological and molecular approaches could enable the engineering of plants with easily degradable cell walls that are nonetheless able to withstand environmental and biotic stresses.


Selected Publications

Xiao, C, Anderson, CT. Activation Tag Screening for Cell Expansion Genes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods in Molecular Biology 2015;1242:159-71.

Bukowski N, Pandey JL, Doyle L, Richard TL, Anderson CT, Zhu Y. Development of a Clickable Designer Monolignol for Interrogation of Lignification in Plant Cell Walls. Bioconjugate Chemistry 2014 epub Nov 18; doi: 10.1021/bc500411u

Slabaugh E, Sethaphong L, Xiao C, Amick J, Anderson CT, Haigler CH, Yingling YJ. Computational and genetic evidence that different structural conformations of a non-catalytic region affect the function of plant cellulose synthase. Journal of Experimental Botany 2014 epub Sep 26;pii: eru383.

Chen Y, Deffenbaugh NC, Anderson CT, Hancock WO. Molecular counting by photobleaching in protein complexes with many subunits: best practices and application to the cellulose synthesis complex. Molecular Biology of the Cell 2014 Nov;25(22):3630-42.

Xiao C, Somerville S, Anderson CT. POLYGALACTURONASE INVOLVED IN EXPANSION 1 Functions in Cell Elongation and Flower Development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell 2014 Mar 28; doi:

McCarthy TW, Der JP, Honaas LA, dePamphilis CW, Anderson CT. Phylogenetic analysis of pectin-related gene families in Physcomitrella patens and nine other plant species yields evolutionary insights into cell walls. BMC Plant Biology 2014;14:79. doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-79

Anderson CT, Carroll A. Identification and use of fluorescent dyes for plant cell wall imaging using high-throughput screening. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1056:103-9.

Bashline L, Li S, Anderson CT, Lei L, Gu Y. The endocytosis of cellulose synthase in Arabidopsis is dependent on μ2, a clathrin mediated endocytosis adaptin. Plant Physiology 2013; 163(1):150-60.

Xiao CW and Anderson CT. Roles of pectin in biomass yield and processing for biofuels. Frontiers in Plant Biotechnology 2013;4(67).

Wallace IS and Anderson CT. Small molecule probes for plant cell wall polysaccharide imaging. Frontiers in Plant Science 2012;3(89):1-8.

Anderson CT and Wallace IS. Illuminating the wall: Using click chemistry to image pectins in Arabidopsis cell walls. Plant Signaling & Behavior 2012 Jun;7(6):1-3.

Anderson CT*, Wallace IS*, Somerville CR. Metabolic click-labeling with a fucose analog reveals pectin delivery, architecture, and dynamics in Arabidopsis cell walls. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2012 Jan;109(4);1329-34.
*co-first authors

Nath S, Spencer VA, Han J, Chang H, Zhang K, Fontenay GV, Anderson C, Hyman JM, Nilsen-Hamilton M, Chang YT, Parvin B. Identification of Fluorescent Compounds with Non-Specific Binding Property via High Throughput Live Cell Microscopy. PLoS One 2012;7(1):e28802.

Sun J, Phillips CM, Anderson CT, Beeson WT, Marletta MA, Glass NL. Expression and characterization of the Neurospora crassa endoglucanase GH5-1. Protein Expression and Purification 2011 Feb;75(2):147-54.

Anderson CT*, Carroll A*, Akhmetova L, Somerville CR. Real time imaging of cellulose reorientation during cell wall expansion in Arabidopsis roots. Plant Physiology 2010 Feb;152(2):787-96. *co-first authors