Biology Program

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Dr. Michael A. Campbell

Associate Professor of Biology

Ph.D. Botany and Plant Physiology, Rutgers University, 1989

B.S. Biology, Harper College, SUNY-Binghamton, Binghamton, N.Y., 1980


Behrend College Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award., 1999


Teaching Interests:

Sophomore and upper level courses in Cell and Molecular Biology as well as an upper level course in Plant Developmental Biology. Sophomore level classes are intended to introduce the student to the basic knowledge and techniques associated with the field of cell and molecular biology. Students will be exposed to a problem-based laboratory exercise in order to develop critical and analytical thinking skills. Upper division courses in Molecular Biology and Plant Developmental Biology are designed to be project-oriented classes with a strong laboratory component. Students will apply class-room based knowledge to assigned projects.


Research Interests:

Physiology of perennial plants: Perennial plants, such as trees, undergo a developmental state called dormancy. This physiological state is poorly understood but it is known to be a response to an environmental cue such as the short days of winter or drought. Practical applications of this research could result in an ability to alter the length of the growing season of perennial plants and result in the development of new methods of storage of fruit and vegetable crops.

Potato Meristems: Potato tubers are an ideal system for basic studies into meristem dormancy. The meristems of potato tubers have a pronounced dormant period and are therefore ideal for examining the molecular and cellular conditions of the dormant state. Previous research examined genes associated with the regulation of cell division has shown that the arrest of cell division common in a dormant meristem is a condition that is downstream from the imposition of dormancy. Therefore the dormant state represses cell division and cell division is not a state of dormancy.

Black Cherry: In the United States the harvest of cherry wood for fine furniture is restricted to the Allegheny plateau and to a portion of the Appalachian highlands but the range black cherry extends from central regions of the Ontario province in Canada to the southern regions of Mexico. This raises some interesting questions about the genetics of this species and timber quality. Are the trees in the Allegheny genetically superior or is timber quality a factor of the environment? In addition, trees in the northern regions of the species range are subjected to a very short growing season and have a long period of meristem dormancy while trees in the southern parts of the species range have warm winters. These characteristics make black cherry an interesting system for genetic analysis. Part of research is to establish a system to examine the genetic structure and dynamics of black cherry populations in Pennsylvania.

Salamanders: Proposed highway construction on the Behrend Campus will soon result in the destruction of a number of wetlands. These wetlands are breeding sites for the salamander Ambystoma maculatum. In order to examine the impact this highway will have on these breeding populations we have started a program to establish molecular markers as a tool to measure levels of genetic diversity. This program will include the isolation of microsatellite markers to measure the breeding structure and diversity before the highway construction. This baseline information will then be used to determine the impact highway construction, and resulting wetlands mitigations, has on the population of salamanders on the Behrend campus.


Recent Publications:

Campbell, M.A., E. Segear, L.Beers, D. Knauber, J. Suttle. 2008. Dormancy in potato tuber meristems: chemically induced cessation in dormancy matches the natural process based on transcript profiles. Funct Integr Genomics 8:317-328.

Wang, Y-H., M.A. Campbell. 2008. Agrobacterium-mediated trasnformation of tomato elicits unexpected flower phenotypes with similar gene expression profiles. PloS One 3(8): e2974.

Campbell, M.A. J. Patel, J.L. Meyers, L.C. Myrick, and J.L. Gustin. 2001. Genes encoding for Branched-chain amino acid aminotransferase are differentially expressed in plants. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 39:1-6.


Book Chapters

Campbell, M.A. Dormancy and the Cell Cycle. Chapter in “Genetic Engineering, Principles and Methods” volume 27:21-34. Edited by J.K. Setlow, Springer Science+ Business Media, Inc, New York (2006).


Additional Publications


Interested persons can reach me for information at:
Phone: 814-898-6474

This page was last updated 21 May 2009.