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Tessa Durham Brooks
Tessa Durham Brooks BS, PHD
Associate Professor
College of Arts and Sciences


Education: B.S. in Biochemistry
University of Nebraska, 2002
  Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Wisconsin, 2009

Courses:  Inquiry Laboratory, Information of Life, Human Physiology, Genomes and Phonemes

Research Interests:
See also my research page

I am interested in the influence of genes and environment on an organism as it grows and develops.  My expertise is with the model plant Arabidopsis.  Plants are particularly well suited for studying this interaction for two reasons.  First, Arabidopsis genetics is relatively simple due to the propensity of the plant to self-pollinate.  This allows for propagation of genetically-identical stocks generation after generation.  Second, because sessile organisms like Arabidopsis are unable to pick up and go in stressful conditions, they are particularly responsive to environmental changes.  Using image analysis and computational approaches, the influence of the parental environment can be detected in the growth of subsequent progeny throughout development.  I am interested in investigating how this information is passed on from one generation to the next given that the sequence of the genome between generations is nearly identical.


Another area of interest is in characterizing functional properties of a group of genes in Arabidopsis that share similarity with the ion-channel forming glutamate receptors of the mammalian brain.  Arabidopsis contains a family of twenty Glutamate-Like Receptor (GLR) genes that can cause membrane depolarization and an increase of cytoplasmic calcium in response to exogenous amino acids in both root and shoot tissues.  The channel forming glutamate receptors of mammals (iGlus) are most famous for their role in mediating synaptic transmission in the central nervous system.  Why do plants have them?  This problem is being addressed using image analysis in tandem with electrophysiological techniques to investigate roles for this gene family in pathways known to involve electrical signaling.


Meysenburg, M., Durham Brooks, T., Burks, R., Doyle, E., & Frey, T. (2018). DIVAS: Outreach to the Natural Sciences through Image Processing. In Proceedings of the 49th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 777-782). ACM.


Doan, T. H., Doan, T. A., Kangas, M. J., Ernest, A. E., Tran, D., Wilson, C. L., Andrea E. Holmes, Erin L. Doyle,  & Durham Brooks, T. L. (2017). A low-cost imaging method for the temporal and spatial colorimetric detection of free amines on maize root surfaces. Frontiers in plant science, 8, 1513.


Smith HC, Niewohner DJ, Dewey GD, Longo AM, Guy TL, Higgins BR, Daehling SB, Genrich SC, Wentworth CD, Durham Brooks TL. (2014) Using Flatbed Scanners to Collect High-resolution Time-lapsed Images of the Arabidopsis Root Gravitropic Response. Journal of Visualized Experiments (83), e50878.


Elwell AL, Gronwall DS, Miller ND, Spalding EP, Durham Brooks TL. (2010) Separating parental environment from seed-size effects on next generation growth and development in Arabidopsis.  Plant, Cell & Environment, 34(2), 291-301.


Miller ND, Durham Brooks TL, Spalding EP (2010) Detection of a gravitropism phenotype in glutamate receptor-like 3.3 mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana using machine vision and computation.  Genetics, 186(2), 585-593.


Durham Brooks TL, Miller ND, Spalding EP (2009) Plasticity of Arabidopsis root gravitropism throughout a multi-dimensional condition space quantified by automated image analysis.  Plant Physiology 152(1), 206-216.


Durham Brooks TL (2009) A role for AtGLR3.3 in buffering root responses to gravity detected computationally within a multi-dimensional behavior space.  Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin.


Folta KM, Lieg EJ, Durham T, Spalding EP.  (2003) Primary Inhibition of Hypocotyl Elongation Requires Phototropin1-Dependent Increases in Cytosolic Calcium.  Plant Physiology 133(4),1464-70.

Professional Memberships:

American Society of Plant Biologists

Human Anatomy and Physiology Society