Michael R. Schläppi

Associate Professor
Wehr Life Sciences, 207
(414) 288-1480

Diploma 1986, University of Basel, Switzerland 
Ph.D. 1990, University of Basel, Switzerland 
Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Institute of Washington 


Cold Tolerance and Flowering Time Regulation in Plants

We have molecular and genetic projects to investigate cold tolerance and flowering time regulation in the model plants Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and, more recently, rice (Oryza sativa). We are currently focusing on exploring the natural variation that exists in rice to map new quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for various cold tolerance traits. Toward this goal we are using a sophisticated method to screen the US Department of Agriculture mini-core collection of rice, which represents the diversity and complexity of the world’s germplasms. Our preliminary results are consistent with the hypothesis that cold tolerance measured in various ways is genetically controlled. Our long-term goals are to field-test our laboratory results, to introgress large-effect QTLs into elite rice lines, to fine-map interesting QTLs, and to identify genes associated with them. In parallel we are exploring the natural variation of Arabidopsis to study specific aspects of stress tolerance and flowering time regulation, specifically focusing on hybrid proline and glycine-rich protein (HyP/GRP) and FRIGIDA-LIKE (FRL) genes.

For more details on projects, please click on research program.


Selected Publications

Cecchini NM, Steffes K, Schläppi MR, Gifford A, Greenberg JT. 2015. Signal mobilization by AZI1-family proteins mediates systemic defence priming. Nature Communications, in press.


Liu Y, Fang J, Fan X, Chu J, Yan C, Schläppi MR, Wang Y, Chu C. 2014. Expression patterns of ABA and GA metabolism genes and hormone levels during rice seed development and imbibition: a comparison of dormant and non-dormant rice cultivars. J Genet Genomics 41:327-338.


Song, DW, Xin, N, Xie, BJ, Li, YJ, Meng, LY, Li, HM, Schläppi, M, Deng, YL. 2014. Formation of a salsolinol-like compound, the neurotoxin, 1-acetyl-6,7-dihydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroiso-quinoline, in a cellular model of hyperglycemia and a rat model of diabetes. Int J Mol Med 33:736-742.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Xin, N., Li, Y.J., Li, X., Wang, X., Li, Y., Zhang, X., Dai, R.J., Meng, W.W., Wang, H.L., Ma, H., Schläppi, M., and Deng, Y.L. 2012. Dragon's blood may have radioprotective effects in radiation-induced rat brain injury. Radiat Res. 178(1):75-85.

Li, L., Zhang, C., Xu, D., Schläppi M., Xu, Z.Q.  2012. Expression of recombinant EARLI1, a hybrid proline-rich protein of Arabidopsis, in Escherichia coli and its inhibition effect to the growth of fungal pathogens and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Gene. 10;506(1):50-61.

Zhang, X., Xu, Z-Y., Schläppi M., and Xu, Z-Q. 2011. Inhibition of Arabidopsis AZI1 to the growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and infection of Botrytis cinerea of garlic sprout. Plant Physiol. J. 47: 57-62.

Li, C., Wang, Y., Liu, L., Hu, Y., Zhang, F., Mergen, S., Wang, G., Schläppi, MR., and Chu, C. 2011. A rice plastidial nucleotide sugar epimerase is involved in galactolipid biosynthesis and improves photosynthetic efficiency. PLoS Genetics, 7: e1002196. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002196.

Xu, D., Huang, X., Xu, ZQ., and Schläppi, M. 2011. The HyPRP gene EARLI1 has an auxiliary role for germinability and early seedling development under low temperature and salt stress conditions in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta, doi:10.1007/s00425-011-1425-9.

Shi, Y. Zhang, X., Xu, ZY., Li, L., Zhang, C., Schlappi, M., and Xu, ZQ.  2011.  Influence of EARLI1-like genes on flowering time and lignin synthesis of Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Biology, 13: 731-739.

Xu, ZY., Zhang, X., Schläppi, M., and Xu, ZQ. 2011. Cold-inducible expression of AZI1 and its function in improvement of freezing tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J Plant Physiol, 168: 1576-1587. 

Xin, N., Li, YJ., Dai, RJ., Meng, WW., Chen, Y., Schlappi, M., and Deng, YL. 2011. Dragon’s Blood extract has antithrombotic properties, affecting platelet aggregation functions and anticoagulation activities. J Ethnopharmacol, 135: 510-514. 

Schläppi, M. 2011.  Genetic and physiological analysis of biennialism in Hyoscyamus nigerPlant Biology, 13: 534-540. 

Wang, J., Tian, N., Huang, X., Chen, LY., Schläppi, M., and Xu, ZQ.  2009. The tall fescue turf grass class I chitinase gene FaChit1 is activated by fungal elicitors, dehydration, ethylene, and mechanical wounding. Plant Mol Biol Rep, 27: 305-314. 


Meeting Presentations

Schläppi, M. 2014. Germinability as a "reader" of heterologous gene effects in early responses to abiotic stress. ICAR Abstract #251, 25nd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 28-August 1, 2014.


Schläppi, M. 2014. Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of cold stress tolerance responses in rice. Gordon Research Conference on Plant Molecular Biology. Holderness School, Plymouth, NH, July 20-25, 2014.

Schläppi, M. 2011.  The HyPRP gene EARLI1 has an auxiliary role for germinability and early seedling development under low temperature and salt stress conditions. ICAR Abstract #150, 22nd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, Madison, WI, June 22-25, 2011.


Invited Talks


Culture and Rice. Community Conversations at Alice’s Garden, Milwaukee, WI, June 25, 2014.


Community-based Evaluations of Rice Cultivation in Urban Gardens. Faculty Conversations on Learning, Marquette University, January 8, 2014.


Cold War in Plants: A Whole Genome Search for Resistance Fighters. University of Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, March 18, 2013.

Understanding cold stress tolerance in Arabidopsis and rice. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany, Beijing, China, April 28, 2011.

The role of hybrid proline-rich proteins in plant stress protection pathways. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Beijing, China, June 23, 2010.


Biol 1002 - General Biology

Biol 3406 - Plant Biology

Biol 8201 - Epigenetics

Biol 8202 - Principles of Eukaryotic Genetics

Biol 8954 - Seminar in Plant Molecular Biology 


Current Students

Yao Shi (Ph.D. student)

Naoki Shimoyama (Ph.D. student)


Dr. Schlappi is currently accepting new Ph.D. students into his lab


Former Students


Jason A Bubier, 2004, Ph.D.

Ying Pan, 2005, Ph.D.

Richard K Wilkosz, 2001, Ph.D. 

Yi Zhang, 2007, Ph.D. 

Ranjuna Weerasekera, 2009, M.S.

Monica K Patel, 2001, M.S. 



Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
(Directions/campus map)
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355