Gregg Howe and his research group at Michigan State University (MSU) have been engaged in oxylipin research for over 20 years. Gregg received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in Biology from East Carolina State University, and then worked for two years in the plant biotechnology industry at Standard Oil and Ciba-Geigy. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993. His Ph.D. thesis, conducted with Dr. Sabeeha Merchant, was focused on understanding metalloenzyme assembly in the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Gregg did his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Clarence Ryan at the Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University, where he initiated a project to understand the genetic basis of wound-induced resistance of tomato to insect herbivores. In 1997, Gregg joined the faculty of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab (PRL) and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MSU.
Research in the Howe group broadly addresses the regulatory basis of plant defense against insect herbivores. A major focus of Gregg’s work is elucidating the mechanism of action of the lipid-derived hormone jasmonate. His lab combines molecular genetic, biochemical, and structural approaches to understand how jasmonate exerts transcriptional control over defense pathways for resistance to biotic stress. His lab has made contributions to understanding the biosynthesis and catabolism of jasmonate, the molecular mechanism of jasmonate perception, and negative feedback control of jasmonate responses. Current research in the Howe lab explores the antagonistic relationship between jasmonate-mediated defense and inhibition of plant growth and fertility.