Lena Maria Mueller

Asst. Professor

(305) 284-0270
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2015-2020Post Doctoral Fellow, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University
2015Ph.D. Plant Science and Policy University of Zurich
2009M.Sc. Biology University of Tuebingen


I teach BIL255 "Cell and Molecular Biology" in the Fall. My goals as an educator are to engage my students in critical thinking, problem solving, and curiosity. Such skills are not only necessary for student’s careers, but will also help to make informed decisions in everyday life. I plan to incorporate current biological topics or publications into the curriculum, even when explaining general concepts in molecular or cellular biology. Rather than just focusing on technical facts, this will allow the students to understand why a certain concept is relevant, and how such concepts are constantly challenged and further developed. I believe teachers should not be merely transmitting facts, but facilitate every student’s learning. I strive to establish a collaborative and inclusive learning environment, where each voice will be heard, and every individual’s success is a priority. 

Professional Experience

2021 - Assistant Professor, University of Miami, Biology Department

Research Interests

Research in my lab aims to elucidate the molecular basis of an intimate partnership of plant roots and symbiotic soil fungi, referred to as arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) symbiosis. AM symbiosis is a mutually beneficial cross-kingdom species interaction centered on nutrient exchange: while the fungus provides the plant with mineral nutrients such as phosphate, the plant provides the obligate biotrophic fungus with carbon in the form of sugars or lipids.

My lab is particularly interested in understanding how the plant partner controls initiation and maintenance of the symbiosis. In order to (i) maintain an optimal balance between the carbon costs and the benefits the fungal symbiont provides, (ii) prevent fungal over-colonization, and (iii) restrict AM symbiosis in conditions when the plant can satisfy its nutrient needs through direct uptake by its roots, plants employ a variety of cellular and systemic signaling mechanisms to continuously monitor their nutrient and symbiosis status and fine-tune fungal colonization accordingly. Research in my lab aims to elucidate these signaling pathways, which allow the host plant to ensure an optimal outcome of the symbiosis. We are in particular interested in the role of a group of mobile plant peptide hormones (CLE peptides) in the quantitative regulation of root colonization by AM fungi. Our research is centered on the interface of molecular genetics, plant physiology, and ecology; and we ask questions like “what is the molecular function of symbiotic peptide signals?”, “how are symbiotic peptide signals induced and transduced?”, “how do plants prevent parasitism (over-sequestration of carbon) by AM fungi?”, “how do plants measure symbiosis success?”. We use a combination of molecular biology, cell biology, transcriptomics, quantitative genetics, and microscopy to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of plant control over AM symbiosis.



Müller, L.M., L. Campos-Soriano, V. Levesque-Tremblay, A. Bravo, D.A. Daniels, S. Pathak, H.J. Park, & M.J. Harrison“Constitutive overexpression of RAM1 increases arbuscule density during arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis in Brachypodium distachyon” Plant Physiology 184 (3) (2020).

Müller, L.M., K. Flokova, E. Schnabel, X. Sun, Z. Fei, J. Frugoli, H.J. Bouwmeester, & M.J. Harrison“A CLE–SUNN module regulates strigolactone content and fungal colonization in arbuscular mycorrhiza” Nature Plants 5 (2019).

Müller, L.M. & M.J. Harrison“Phytohormones, miRNAs and peptides integrate plant phosphorus status with arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis” Current Opinion in Plant Biology 50 (2019).

Floss, D.S., K.S. Gomez, H.J. Park, A.M. MacLean, L.M. Müller, K.K. Bhattarai, V. Levesque-Tremblay, I.E. Maldonado-Mendoza & M.J. Harrison“A transcriptional program for arbuscule degeneration during AM symbiosis is regulated by MYB1” Current Biology 27 (2017).

Müller, L.M., H. Lindner, N.D. Pires & U. Grossniklaus“A subunit of the oligosaccharyltransferase complex is required for interspecific gametophyte recognition in Arabidopsis” Nature Communications 7 (2016).

Pires, N.D., M. Bemer, L.M. Müller, C. Baroux, C. Spillane & U. Grossniklaus“Quantitative genetics identifies cryptic genetic variation involved in the paternal regulation of seed development” PLoS Genetics 12 (2016).

Lindner, H., S. A. Kessler*, L.M. Müller*, H. Shimosato-Asano, A. Boisson-Dernier & U. Grossniklaus“TURAN and EVAN regulate pollen tube reception in the synergid cells, but play distinct roles in the male gametophyte” PLoS Biology 13 (2015). *Authors contributed equally

Lindner, H.*, L.M. Müller*, A. Boisson-Dernier & U. Grossniklaus“CrRLK1L receptor-like kinases: not just another brick in the wall” Current Opinion Plant Biology 15 (2012). *Authors contributed equally

Richter, S., L.M. Müller, Y.D. Stierhof, U. Mayer, N. Takada, B. Kost, A. Vieten, N. Geldner, C. Koncz & G. Jürgens“Polarized cell growth in Arabidopsis requires endosomal recycling mediated by GBF1-related ARF exchange factors” Nature Cell Biology 14 (2012).

El-Kasmi, F., T. Pacher, G. Strompen, Y.D. Stierhof, L.M. Müller, C. Koncz, U. Mayer & G. Jürgens“Arabidopsis SNARE protein SEC22 is essential for gametophyte development and maintenance of Golgi-stack integrity” Plant Journal 66 (2011).