Skip to main content

Michael Axtell

Professor of Biology and Louis and Hedwig Sternberg Chair in Plant Biology
A picture of Mike Axtell's head


B.A., Biology, Ithaca College

Ph.D., Plant Biology, University of California, Berkeley


Postdoctoral Training

Whitehead Institute / Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003-2006



Beckman Young Investigator, 2008-2011

Searle Scholar, 2008-2011


Research Interests

We are biologists who use diverse plant species to study a class of genes that produce small RNAs. Small RNAs went largely undetected until around the turn of the century. We now know that they are critical components of gene expression in nearly all eukaryotic organisms. These small RNAs are functionally united in that they all function as sequence-specific repressors of other genes. Small RNAs are especially important for regulating the developmental programs of both animals and plants. Our research addresses fundamental unknowns of small RNA functions in plants including:

  • Annotation of small RNA genes using small RNA-seq data
  • How and to what ends have small RNA pathways diversified during land plant evolution?
  • What are the sequence requirements for effective small RNA-target interactions in plants?

We use genetics, molecular biology, and genomics to answer these questions.