Wojciech (Wojtek) Pawlowski
Associate Professor

Wojciech Pawlowski




Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics
401 Bradfield Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-2703


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Wojtek Pawlowski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University. He received a M.S. degree in Plant Breeding from the Agricultural University, Crawcow, Poland in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He was a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota from 1997-1998, a Postdoctoral Scientist at UC Berkeley from 1998-2002, and an Assistant Specialist at UC Berkeley from 2002-2004. In 2004, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University.

Research Description

My goal is to understand the basis of inheritance in plants by studying the mechanisms of meiosis, particularly pairing of homologous chromosomes and meiotic recombination. Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division that reduces the chromosome number in the nucleus from 2n to 1n and leads to the production of gametes. During the prophase of meiosis, homologous chromosomes, one from the mother and the other one from the father, pair with each other, synapse, and exchange parts (recombine). These processes are essential for accurate transmission of genetic material from parents to the progeny. Meiosis is also the single most important source of genetic variation, which is the basis of plant breeding. The past decade has brought dramatic improvements in the knowledge of meiotic processes. However, many aspects of meiosis remain very poorly understood. The research in my lab focuses on two of such areas: the mechanism of homologous chromosome pairing and the regulation of meiotic recombination. We combine classical genetics and cutting-edge genomic, proteomic, and molecular genetic approaches, with state-of-the-art 3-dimensional microscopy to identify genes, proteins, and pathways that play key roles in meiosis. We use three model plant systems, maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa), two of the most important crop plants in the world, and a common weed, Arabidopsis thaliana.

Selected Publications

Esch, E., Szymaniak, J.M., Yates, H., Pawlowski, W.P., and Buckler, E.S. (2007) Using crossover breakpoints in recombinant inbred lines to identify quantitative trait loci controlling the global recombination frequency. Genetics 177, 1851-1858.

Ronceret, R., Sheehan, M.J., and Pawlowski, W.P. (2008) Chromosome dynamics in meiosis. In: Cell Division Control in Plants (D.P.S. Verma and Z. Hong, eds.). Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg. pp. 103-124. (Invited book chapter).

Pawlowski, W.P., Wang, C.-J.R., Golubovskaya, I.N., Szymaniak, J.M., Shi, L., Hamant, O., Zhu, T., Harper, L., Sheridan, W.F., and Cande, W.Z. (2009) Maize AMEIOTIC1 is essential for multiple early meiotic processes and likely required for the initiation of meiosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 3603-3608.

Ronceret, R., Doutriaux, M.P., Golubovskaya, I.N., and Pawlowski, W.P. (2009) PHS1 regulates meiotic recombination and homologous chromosome pairing by controlling the transport of RAD50 to the nucleus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 20121-20126.

Sheehan, M.J. and Pawlowski, W.P. (2009) Live imaging of rapid chromosome movements in meiotic prophase I in maize. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 20989-20994.

Pawlowski, W.P. (2010) Chromosome organization and dynamics in plants. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 13, 640-645.

Tiang, C.L., He, Y., and Pawlowski, W.P. (2012) Chromosome organization and dynamics during interphase, mitosis, and meiosis in plants. Plant Physiol. 158, 26-34.

Sheehan, M.J. and Pawlowski, W.P. (2012) Imaging chromosome dynamics in meiosis in plants. Methods Enzymol. 505, 125-143.