Associate Professor

Mary Tierney


Office Location:

313 Jeffords Hall

  • 802-656-0434

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Cell wall structure, signaling pathways, control of gene expression


  • Ph.D. 1983, Michigan State University

Research and/or Creative Works

The dynamic character of the plant cell wall provides a mechanism(s) by which plants selectively modify their extracellular matrix as a consequence of growth and differentiation. The process of cell wall assembly and metabolism contributes to changes in cell shape and function as well as defense strategies for combating biotic and abiotic stress essential for plant viability within their environment. We have previously characterized four proline-rich cell wall proteins (PRPs) in Arabidopsis using promoter/reporter gene fusions in transgenic plants and have shown that they are expressed in root hairs or guard cells. Genetic and cell biology analysis has shown that each of these proteins contribute uniquely to wall structures essential for root hair or guard cell function.

To further investigate the cellular mechanisms responsible for the PRP mutant phenotypes, we have used microarray analysis to characterize genes whose expression is altered in the prp3 root hair mutant. We have identified a number of genes involved in vesicle trafficking, transcriptional regulation and genome organization whose altered expression is linked to changes in cell wall structure. We are interested in characterizing the role of these genes in controlling cell wall structure and polarized growth in plants, using root hairs as a model system.

VTI13 is required for root hair growth and localized within the vacuole membrane and the trans-Golgi network in Arabidopsis.


Hu, J, Zhang, X, Furlan, C, Tierney, ML. PRP3 and PRP1 localizes to the cell wall and are required for root hair growth in Arabidopsis. (in preparation)
Larson, ER, Tierney, ML, Tinaz, B, Domozych, DS. (2014) Using monoclonal antibodies to label living root hairs: a novel tool for studying cell wall microarchitecture and dynamics in Arabidopsis. Plant Methods. 10:30
Larson, ER, Domozych, DS, Tierney, ML. (2014) SNARE VTI13 plays a unique role in endosomal trafficking pathways associated with the vacuole and is essential for cell wall organization and root hair growth in Arabidopsis. Annals of Botany. 114:1147-59.
Mohnen, D. and M. L. Tierney. (2011) Plant science. Plants get Hyp to O-glycosylation. Science. 332:1393-1394.
Bernhardt, C. and M. L. Tierney.(2006) Proline-rich cell wall proteins: building blocks for an expanding cell wall? In T. Hayashi (Ed.), The science and lore of the plant cell wall: Biosynthesis, structure and function. Brown Walker Press, Boca Raton, Fl., pp. 164-170.
Carpita, N., M. L. Tierney, and M. Campbell. (2001) Molecular biology of the plant cell wall: searching for the genes that define structure, architecture and dynamics. Plant Mol Biol. 47:1-5.
Bernhardt, C. and M. L. Tierney. (2000) Expression of AtPRP3, a proline-rich structural cell wall protein from Arabidopsis, is regulated by cell-type-specific developmental pathways involved in root hair formation. Plant Physiol. 122(3):705-714.
Fowler, T. J., C. Bernhardt, and M. L. Tierney. (1999) Characterization and expression of four proline-rich cell wall protein genes in Arabidopsis encoding two distinct subsets of multiple domain proteins. Plant Physiol. 121(4):1081-1092.

Courses Taught

Ethics in Graduate Research (PBIO 295); Introduction to Botany (PBIO 004); Genetics (BCOR 101); Cell & Molecular Biology (CMB 302); Graduate Seminar (MMG 310)