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Marcelo Serpe, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Year arrived at BSU: 1998

Mailing Address:
Department of Biology
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1515

Office Location: Science Building, Room 206
Office Number: 208-426-3687
Office Fax: 208-426-4267
E-Mail Address:


Ingeniero Agronomo, Facultad de Agronomia, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1981.
Ph.D., Plant Physiology, University of California, Davis, 1991.
Postdoctoral research associate, Plant Cell Biochemistry, University of California, Riverside, 1991-95.
Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, 1995-1998.
Assistant Professor, Boise State University, 1998-2002.


General Biology
General Botany
Plant Anatomy and Microtechnique
Plant Physiology
Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants


I am interested in understanding the regulation of plant growth by environmental and biochemical factors. Within this area of research, I have conducted studies at the molecular, cellular and whole plant levels.

Current research projects in my lab are aimed at analyzing the influence of biotic and environmental factors on germination and seedling establishment of sagebrush steppe vegetation. This work involves studies under growth chamber and field conditions using a variety of experimental techniques ranging from immunochemical analysis of plant tissues to eco-physiological measurements of plant water status and photosynthesis. Projects include investigating the mechanisms by which biological soil crusts affect seed germination, the environmental regulation of dormancy break in native seeds, and the effects of mycorrhizae on seedling establishment of big sagebrush.

Sagebrush ecosystems had experienced major changes due to invasion by exotic annual grasses and an increase in the frequency of wildfires. A better understanding of the factors that control germination and seedling establishment of native vegetation may help to develop better approaches to the restoration of sagebrush habitats.


Carter KA, Smith JF, White MM, Serpe MD (2014) Assessing the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in semiarid shrublands dominated by Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis. Mycorrhiza 24: 301-314

Shellie K, Cragin J, Serpe M (2014) Performance of Alternative European Wine Grape Cultivars in Southwestern Idaho: Cold Hardiness, Berry Maturity, and Yield. HortTechnology 24: 138-147

Chao WS, Serpe M, Suttle JC, Jia Y (2013) Increase in ACC oxidase levels and activities during paradormancy release of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) buds. Planta 238: 205-215

Serpe MD,  Roberts  E, Eldridge DJ, Rosentreter R (2013) Bromus tectorum litter alters photosynthetic characteristics of biological soil crusts from a semiarid shrubland. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 60:220-230

Zhou X, ZhangY, Ji X, Downing A, Serpe M (2011) Combined effects of nitrogen deposition and water stress on growth and physiological responses of two annual desert plants in northwestern China. Environmental and Experimental Botany 74:1-8

Chao WS, Serpe MD (2010) Changes in the expression of carbohydrate metabolism genes relating to three phases of bud dormancy in leafy spurge.  Plant Molecular Biology 73: 227-239

Scholten M, Donahue J, Shaw NL, Serpe MD (2009) Environmental regulation of dormancy loss in Lomatium dissectum (Apiaceae) seeds. Annals of Botany 103: 1091-1101

Serpe MD, Zimmerman SJ, Deines L, Rosentreter R. (2008) Seed water status and root tip characteristics of two annual grasses on lichen-dominated biological soil crusts. Plant Soil 303: 191-205

Deines L, Rosentreter R, Eldridge DJ, Serpe MD (2007) Germination and seedling establishment of two annual grasses on lichen-dominated biological soil crusts. Plant Soil 295: 23-35

Chao WS, Serpe MD, Jia Y, Shelver WL, Anderson JV, Umeda M. (2007) Potential roles for autophosphorylation, kinase activity, and abundance of a CDK-activating kinase (Ee;CDKF;1) during growth in leafy spurge. Plant Molecular Biology 63: 365-379

Serpe MD, Orm JM, Barkes TR, Rosentreter R (2006) Germination and seed water status of four grasses on moss dominated biological soil crusts from arid lands Plant Ecology 185: 163-178

Chao WS, Serpe MD, Anderson JV, Gesch RW, Horvath DP. (2006) Sugars, hormones, and environment affect the dormancy status in underground adventitious buds of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). Weed Science 54: 59-68

Serpe MD, Muir AJ, Andème-Onzighi C, Driouich A (2004) Differential expression of callose and a b-1,4 galactan epitope in the laticiferous plant Euphorbia heterophylla L. Int J Plant Sci 165: 571-585

Serpe MD, Muir AJ, Driouich A (2002) Immunolocalization of b-D-glucans, pectins, and arabinogalactan-proteins during intrusive growth and elongation of nonarticulated laticifers in Asclepias speciosa Torr. Planta 215: 357-370

Serpe MD, Muir AJ, Keidel AM. (2001) Localization of cell wall polysaccharides in nonarticulated laticifers of Asclepias speciosa. Protoplasma 216: 215-226

Serpe MD, Nothnagel EA (1999) Arabinogalactan-proteins in the Multiple Domains of the Plant Cell Surface. Advances in Botanical Research 30: 207-289

Serpe MD, Nothnagel EA (1996) Heterogeneity of arabinogalactan-proteins on the plasma membrane of rose cells. Plant Physiol. 112: 1261-1271

Serpe MD, Nothnagel EA (1995) Purification and biochemical characterization of arabinogalactan-proteins from the cell wall of rose cells. Plant Physiol. 109: 1007-1016

Serpe MD, Nothnagel EA (1994) Effects of Yariv phenylglycosides on Rosa cell suspensions: Evidence for the involvement of arabinogalactan-proteins in cell proliferation. Planta 193: 542-550

Serpe MD, Matthews MA (1994) Changes in cell wall yielding and stored growth in Begonia argenteo-guttata L. leaves during the development of water deficits. Plant Cell Physiol. 35: 619-626

Serpe MD, Matthews MA (1992) Rapid changes in cell wall yielding of elongating Begonia argenteo-guttata L. leaves in response to changes in plant water status. Plant Physiol. 100: 1852-1857