Plant Molecular Biology

The Plant Molecular Biology Program (PMB) offers a unique training and research opportunity for select students with specialized interest in the plant sciences in a programmatic context of broader education in all modern areas of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

Faculty research interests represent an interdisciplinary range of plant and related microbial topics including cell and developmental biology, molecular biology and physiology, chemical biology, innate immunity, photomorphogenesis and photosynthesis, bioenergy and metagenomics.

Students in Plant Molecular Biology receive comprehensive training in biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, genetics and genomics, with access to state-of-the-art facilities in microscopy, genomics, proteomics and computational biology.

Program of Study

Students will take the core courses required for the Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Development Track (MCGD): Molecular Cell Biology, Basic Concepts of Genetics Analysis, Biochemical and Biophysical Approaches in Molecular and Cellular Biology. In addition, faculty participating in PMB will offer a seminar-based course titled, “Advances in Plant Molecular Biology”. All Plant Molecular Biology students are required to attend the weekly Botany and Departmental seminar series and carry out three lab rotations. By the second year, students should have chosen a laboratory for thesis work and completed most course requirements. Specialized courses relevant to the students specific interests will be undertaken in the second year. In addition, in years 2 and beyond, all Plant Molecular Biology students will be required to present one seminar a year in the Botany seminar series.


Gary BrudvigPhotosystems and bioenergy
Nicole ClayPlant innate immunity and biodefenses
Joshua GendronPlant circadian rhyrthms
Jo HandelsmanMetagenomics and plant pathology
Vivian IrishPlant developmental genetics and evolution
Yannick JacobsPlant epigenetics (chromatin modifications)
Scott StrobelMicrobial metagenomics
Hongyu ZhaoPopulation genetics and computational biology

Resources for Plant Science Research

Plant research activities at Yale are conducted in the Departments of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics and Chemistry. Research laboratories are located in Osborn Memorial Laboratories, Kline Biology Tower, and Bass and West Campus. Centralized instrumentation and expertise support is available from several state-of-the-art centers in biotechnology, genomics, chemical biology, structural biology, imaging and informatics.

Plant growth facilities include access to Marsh Botanical Garden, an 8-acre site on the Yale campus that supports research, teaching and outreach activities. MBG includes 9400 square feet of greenhouse space available for research, staffed by professional with expertise for plant culture, pest control and related issues. Plant facilities also include 15 controlled environment plant growth rooms located in KBT and OML laboratory buildings. The Peabody Museum of Natural History, one of the largest natural history museums in the country, houses important research collections in botany.


Students should apply to the Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Development Track of the BBS and choose the Plant Molecular Biology Program in the Special Program pull down menu.

In addition to general BBS requirements, the GRE Subject Test in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology or Chemistry is recommended.

More information


Nicole Clay (