Faculty & Staff

Ann E. Stapleton, Associate Professor

photoPh.D., Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1990
B.S., Biology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, 1983
Friday Hall 2062 | (910) 962-7267 | 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403-5915


I work at the interfaces, such as the junctions between research and teaching, individual research projects and large collaborative projects, the organization of international meetings and high-school teacher inquiry labs.


How are genotype and phenotype associated in changing environments? My students and I address this question in maize, which has excellent public genetic tools and is an economically important crop. We are currently dissecting the genetic architecture of plant responses when drought and other stresses are applied in combination, and developing a better understanding of how microbial epiphytes interact with plant genes and growth environments. These answers will shape how we design more sustainable agricultural and ecological systems in the future.

Student Accomplishments—the Hall of Fame

My students have gone on to graduate school, careers in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, medical and nursing programs, and faculty positions. Career development is an important part of what you do when I’m your advisor!

Teaching and Mentoring

Taught an honors seminar on Innovation and Creativity with Dr. Jessica Magnus, UNCW Cameron Business School, Fall 2013.

Recipient of the first UNCW award for mentoring of honors research students.

I design my classes to develop metacognitive skills—so that students learn how to learn science. Classes include honors first-semester introductory biology, junior-level cellular and molecular physiology, plant physiology, and capstone seminars on systems analysis and genomics.

Nominated for 1998 UT National Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award.


Recent Publications (student co-authors bold type)

Landers1 DA, Stapleton AE. 2014. Genetic interactions matter more in less-optimal environments: a Focused Review of ‘Phenotype uniformity in combined-stress environments has a different genetic architecture than in single-stress treatments’ (Makumburage and Stapleton, 2011). Front Plant Sci 5:384.  This is a Tier 2 review by invitation to highly accessed authors. 

Manching2 HC, Balint-Kurti PJ, Stapleton AE. 2014. Southern leaf blight disease severity is correlated with decreased maize leaf epiphytic bacterial species richness and the phyllosphere bacterial diversity decline is enhanced by nitrogen fertilization. Frontier in Plant-Microbe Interact 5:403.

Stapleton AE. 2014. A biologist, a statistician, and a bioinformatician walk into a conference room… and walk out with a great metagenomics project plan. Frontiers in Plant Genet Genomics 5:250.

G. Buddhika Makumburage, H. Lee Richbourg, Kalindi D. LaTorre, Andrew Capps, Cuixen Chen, and Ann E. Stapleton (2013) Genotype to phenotype maps:  multiple input abiotic signals combine to produce growth effects via attenuating signaling interactions in maize.  G3 Genes Genomes Genetics, in press.

Catherine B. Kandianis, Abigail S. Michenfelder, Susan J. Simmons, Michael A. Grusak and Ann E. Stapleton (2013) Abiotic stress growth conditions induce different responses in kernel iron concentration across genotypically distinct maize inbred varieties.  Frontiers in Plant Science Genetics and Genomics, in press.

Makumburage, G. B., Stapleton A. E. 2011 Phenotype uniformity in combined-stress environments has a different genetic architecture than in single-stress treatments. Frontiers in Plant Science 2:12 doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00012.

Goff Stephen A, Vaughn Matthew, McKay Sheldon, Lyons Eric, Stapleton Ann E, Gessler Damian et al 2011 The iPlant Collaborative: Cyberinfrastructure for Plant Biology Frontiers in Plant Science 2 10.3389/fpls.2011.00034.

Balint-Kurti, P., Pridgen, P.1, Stapleton, A. E. 2011 Antibiotic Resets the Maize Leaf Phyllosphere Community and Increases Resistance to Southern Leaf Blight Acta Horticulturae 905, http://www.actahort.org/books/905/.

Harjes CE, Rocheford TR, Bai L, Brutnell TP, Kandianis CB, Sowinski SG, Stapleton AE, Vallabhaneni R, Williams M, Wurtzel ET, Yan J, Buckler ES (2008) Natural Genetic Variation in Lycopene Epsilon Cyclase Tapped for Maize Biofortification. Science 319: 330-333

Blanding CR, Simmons SJ, Casati P, Walbot V, Stapleton AE (2007) Coordinated regulation of maize genes during increasing exposure to ultraviolet radiation: identification of ultraviolet-responsive genes, functional processes and associated potential promoter motifs. Plant Biotechnology Journal 5: 677-695

Casati, P., Stapleton, A., Blum, J. E., Walbot, V. (2006) Genome-wide analysis of high altitude maize and gene knockdown stocks implicates chromatin remodeling proteins in responses to UV-B, Plant Journal 46:613-627.

Boone, Edward L., Susan J. Simmons, Keying Ye and Ann E. Stapleton (2006) Analyzing Quantitative Trait Loci for Arabidopsis thaliana using Markov Chain Monte Carlo Model Composition with Restricted and Unrestricted Model Spaces. Statistical Methodology 3(1): 69-78.

Simmons, S. J. and Ann E. Stapleton (2006) Bayesian hierarchical models to detect quantitative trait loci. Chance 19(3):11-14

Stapleton, A. E. and Simmons, S. J. (2006) Plant Control of Phyllosphere Diversity: Genotype Interactions with Ultraviolet-B Radiation in Microbial Ecology of Aerial Plant Surfaces, Ed. M. Bailey.

Kunzelman, Jennifer I., Michael J. Durako, W. Judson Kenworthy, Ann E. Stapleton, and Jeffrey L.C. Wright (2005) Irradiance-induced changes in the photobiology of Halophila johnsonii Eiseman. Marine Biology 148:241-250.

Brown, Jeffrey L., Clayton S. Ferner, Thomas C. Hudson, Ann E. Stapleton, Ronald J. Vetter, Andrew Martin, Jerry Martin, Allen Rawls, William J. Shipman, Michael Wood, and Tristan Carland (2005) GridNexus: A Grid Services Scientific Workflow System. International Journal of Computer & Information Science (IJCIS) 6(2): 72-82.

Blum, J. E., Casati, P., Walbot, V. and Stapleton, A. E. (2004) Split-plot microarray design allows sensitive detection of expression differences after ultraviolet radiation in the inbred parental lines of a key maize mapping population. Plant Cell and Environment 27(11):1374-1386

Wrede, C. S., Blum, J. E., Brown, J. L. and Stapleton, A. E. (2004) Comparison of transmembrane helix frequencies using whole-genome and maize expressed sequence curve fits. Maydica 49(2):67-76.

Hudson, T., Stapleton, A., and J. Brown (2004) Codifying bioinformatics processes without programming. Drug Discovery Today: BIOSILICO 2 (4):164-169

Kadivar, H. and A. E. Stapleton (2003) Ultraviolet Radiation Alters Maize Phyllosphere Bacterial Diversity Microbial Ecology 45:353-361

Long, L. M., H. Patel, P. Cory, W. C. and A. E. Stapleton (2003) The Maize Epicuticular Wax Layer Provides UV Protection Functional Plant Biology 30:75-81

Cartwright, H. N., Baucom, C., Singh, P., Smith, K. L., and Stapleton, A. (2001) Intraspecific comparisons reveal differences in the pattern of ultraviolet radiation responses in four maize (Zea mays L.) varieties. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 62:88-96.

Complete list of publications can be viewed here: http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=MfwDLb0AAAAJ&sortby=pubdate&view_op=list_works.

Synergistic Activities

Chair of the Maize Genetics Steering Committee, organizing the first Asian meeting in Bejing, March 2014.

Associate Chair (then Chair) of the Gordon Conference on Quantitative Genetics and Genomics, 2015-2017.

Associate Editor, Frontiers in Plant Science:  Genetics and Genomics, R. Jorgensen, Chief Editor.

Manuscripts reviewed for more than 20 journals including: Plant Physiology, Plant Cell and Environment, Planta, PNAS, Plant Cell, Global Change Biology, Genetics, Bioinformatics, Microbial Ecology, First Monday, G3.

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