Alberto L. Mancinelli

Columbia University
Biological Sciences
1108 Schermerhorn Ext, M.C. 5522
New York, N.Y. 10027


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Light plays a fundamental role in the life of plants: it supplies the energy required to drive the process of photosynthesis and information used to regulate development (photoregulation.) The capability to detect changes in the light conditions (direction, duration, intensity, and spectral quality) of the environment and respond to them with appropriate modifications of the pattern of development is an essential component of the mechanisms of adaptation and survival in plants. My research lies in the area of the photoregulation of plant development (plant photomorphogenesis).

All phases of the life cycle of a plant, from seed germination to seed formation are subject to photoregulation. The first step in the chain of reactions resulting in the expression of a photoregulated response is the perception of the light stimulus, a process mediated by specialized photosensitive molecules (photoreceptors). Three groups of photomorphogenic photoreceptors have been identified in plants: the phytochromes, with maximum sensitivity to red and far red radiation; the mechanism involved in the phytochrome-mediated perception of light is the reversible photoconversion between two forms, Pr, physiologically inactive, and Pfr, physiologically active; the cryptochromes, with maximum sensitivity to UV-A and blue radiation; and the UV-B photoreceptors(s) with maximum sensitivity to UV-B radiation. The phytochromes play a dominant role in the photoregulation of plant development.

At present, my studies are centered on the interaction between phytochrome and cryptochrome in the regulation of plant photomorphogenic responses and the phytochrome- mediated perception of changes in the light conditions (direction, duration, intensity, and spectral quality) of the natural environment.

Representative Publications

Galbiati, A., Chiusi, A., Peterlongo, P., Mancinelli, A., and Gavazzi, G. (1994) Photoinduction of anthocyanin in maize: a genetic approach. Maydica 39:89-95.

Mancinelli, A.L. (1994) The physiology of phytochrome action. In Photomorphogenesis in plants, 2nd edition. R.E. Kendrick and G.H.M. Kronenberg, eds. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp. 211-269.

Mancinelli, A.L., Hobert, O., and Nikas, G. (1992) In vivo phytochrome-mediated perception of reflected light signals. Photochemistry and Photobiology 56:585-592.

Mancinelli, A.L., Rossi, F., and Moroni, A. (1991) Crypto chrome, phytochrome, and anthocyanin production. Plant Physiolo gy 96:1079-1085.

Mancinelli, A.L. (1989) Interaction between cryptochrome and phytochrome in higher plant photomorphogenesis. American Journal of Botany 76:143-154.

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