Aleel K. Grennan

Aleel K. Grennan

Assistant Professor

I am a plant physiologist. My research interests is on the role of the chloroplast in plant growth and development, focusing on plant responses to changing light environments. My work encompasses plant responses to light at multiple levels – from canopy and whole plant dynamics to the molecular/cellular level – including screening mutant populations for gene discovery. In the past, I have primarily worked in agricultural settings but my work here at Worcester State University will focus more on natural ecosystems and model systems.


Washington State University
Plant Sciences
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Illinois
Plant Biology
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
Skills Plant Physiology Molecular Biology Chloroplast Biology


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Foundation Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Fund, Worcester State Foundation
2017 grant recipient
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Faculty Scholarship/Creative Activity, Worcester State University’s Office of Academic Affairs
2018 grant recipient
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What makes a shade plant a shade plant?

Why do some plants have the ability to thrive in both sun and shade environments while other, even closely related species, are relegated to only sun or shade environments? My lab group is trying to tease apart this question using greenhouse grown plants as well as tree canopies. We use a combination of approaches including whole plant physiology to examine differences in light movement across leaves, cell biology to look for changes in internal leaf and cell structure, and molecular biology to look for differences in gene expression between shade tolerant and sun plants.

Plant transformation

To support the work on shade plants, I have also started a plant transformation project. This will be used to test the function of genes identified in screens of shade tolerance.

Plant Proteins of Unknown Function

Despite all of the genomes that have been sequenced, the function of 40% of those genes is unknown. To truly understand how an organism responds to its environment, more work needs to be done to annotate these genes. We are focusing on elucidating the function of a small, plastid-targeted protein that is highly expressed in petals and sepals of Arabidopsis thaliana.



Introduction to Organismal Biology

Evolution, ecology, anatomy, physiology and diversity of organisms.
4 credits

Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cellular and molecular concepts in biology.
4 credits

Plant Physiology

4 credits
BI 340

Plant Sciences

Fundamentals of plant processes: nutrition, metabolism, growth, development and responses.