Elizabeth Haswell

​Professor of Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Simmons Faculty Scholar
PhD, University of California-San Francisco
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    contact info:

    mailing address:

    • Washington University
    • CB 1137
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Elizabeth Haswell is interested in the ways that molecules and cellular structures perceive force. Her laboratory's work promises novel insight into the strategies used by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells to sense mechanical stimuli such as touch, osmotic pressure, or gravity—signals that are crucial for the normal growth and development of plants.

    Little is known about signaling in response to stimuli that are mechanical in nature, such as touch, osmotic pressure, or gravity—signals that are crucial for the normal growth and development of plants. Her group is currently studying the structure, function, regulation, and evolution of several families of mechanosensitive ion channels, using live-imaging, single-channel patch clamp electrophysiology, and complementary biochemical and molecular genetic approaches. They are also engaged in functional and genetic screens designed to identify novel mechanosensory proteins, and in the development of new tools for the non-invasive analysis of membrane forces.


    recent courses

    Plant Biology and Genetic Engineering

    Can plant technology save the world? In this problem-based course, students and instructors will work together to understand how plant genetic engineering might help us solve some of the world's biggest problems. As a class, we will select three global challenges with potential plant-based solutions (such as climate change, feeding a growing population, or finding renewable sources of energy). Over the course of the semester, small teams of students will learn and teach each other key aspects of plant biology, the cutting-edge technology currently in use, and progress made to date by academic, non-profit, and industry initiatives.

      Current Approaches in Plant Research

      This course is designed to introduce graduate students to contemporary approaches and paradigms in plant biology. The course includes lectures, in-class discussions of primary literature and hands-on exploration of computational genomic and phylogenetic tools. Evaluations include short papers, quizzes, and oral presentations. Over the semester, each student works on conceptualizing and writing a short NIH-format research proposal. Particular emphasis is given to the articulation of specific aims and the design of experiments.

        Selected Publications

        Complete publications list

        C. P. Lee, G. Maksaev, G. Jensen, M. Murcha, M. E. Wilson, M. Fricker, R. Hell, E. S. Haswell, A. H. Millar and L. Sweetlove. (2016). MSL1 is a mitochondrial mechanosensitive ion channel that dissipates membrane potential and maintains redox homeostasis in mitochondria during abiotic stress. Plant Journal, in press.

        M. E. Wilson, Matt Mixdorf, R. H. Berg and E. S. Haswell. (2016). Plastid Osmotic Shock Influences Dedifferentiation at the Plant Shoot Apex. Development, in press.

        D. R. Luesse, M. E. Wilson and E. S. Haswell. (2015). RNA-Sequencing Analysis of the msl2msl3crl, and ggps1 Mutants Indicates that Diverse Sources of Plastid Dysfunction do not Alter Leaf Morphology Through a Common Signaling Pathway. Frontiers in Plant Science 6:1148.

        E. S. Hamilton, G. S. Jensen, G. Maksaev, A. Katims1, A.M. Sherpand E. S. Haswell. (2015). Mechanosensitive Ion Channel MSL8 Regulates Osmotic Forces During Pollen Hydration and Germination. Science 350:438-441.

        S. M. Brady, M. Burow, W. Busch, O. Carlborg, K. J. Denby, J. Glazebrook, E. S. Hamilton, S. Harmer, E. S. Haswell, J. N. Maloof, D. Kliebenstein. (2015). Reassess the t-test: Interact With All Your Data Via ANOVA. Plant Cell 27:2088-94.

        E. S. Haswell and P. E. Verslues. (2015). The Ongoing Search for the Molecular Basis of Plant Mechanosensing. Journal of General Physiology 145:398-394. Featured on the cover of the May 2015 issue.

        E. S. Hamilton, A. Schlegel, and E. S. Haswell. (2015). United in Diversity: Plant Mechanosensitive Channels. Annual Review of Plant Biology 66:113-137.

        K. M. Veley, G. Maksaev, S. M. Kloepper, E. M. Frick, E. January and E. S. Haswell. (2014). MSL10 has a Regulated Cell Death Signaling Activity that is Separable from its Mechanosensitive Ion Channel Activity. Plant Cell 26:3115-31.

        S. Bell, J. Blumstein, K. Brose, A. Carroll, J. Chang, J. Charles, E. S. Haswell, M. Michelitsch, J. Owens, C. K. Patil, R. Smith, J. Tupy, E. Walsh, T. Ware. (2014). Defining Success in Graduate School. Molecular Biology of the Cell 25:1942-1944.

        M. E. Wilson, M. R. Basu, G. B. Bhaskara, P. E. Verslues, and E. S. Haswell. (2014). Plastid Osmotic Stress Activates Cellular Osmotic Stress Responses. Plant Physiology 165:119-128. 

        M.E. Wilson, G. Maksaev, and E. S. Haswell. (2013). MscS-like Mechanosensitive Ion Channels in Plants and Microbes. Biochemistry 52 (34): 5708–5722. 

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