Steven J. Karpowicz, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor of Biology

Department of Biology

University of Central Oklahoma


Email: skarpowicz (at)

Phone: (405) 974-5773


Ph.D. - University of California, Los Angeles, 2011

B.S. - Washington University in St. Louis, 2005




BIO3303 Genetics

BIO3311 Introduction to Genetics Laboratory Methods


Research Interests


Plants are an ancient eukaryotic lineage, produced by the acquisition of a cyanobacterial endosymbiont by a eukaryotic cell.  This event granted the ancestral plant cell the ability to perform photosynthesis and carbon fixation. Today, the plastid (chloroplast) is a defining structure for modern-day plants, not only in providing the ability to perform photosynthesis, but also in serving as the location for many known and unknown proteins and metabolic activities.


Since the initial endosymbiosis event, the plantae lineage has diverged into three main branches: the viridiplantae (green plants), rhodophytes (red algae), and glaucophytes.  Rhodophytes are a more recent addition to the plant lineage, in which a eukayotic cell acquired its plastid from the endosymbiosis of a green alga. As such, red algae had the opportunity to tailor the plastid to their existing biochemistry, thus introducing the possibility of numerous changes to established green plastid metabolism.


I am interested in exploring the molecular biology of plastids specifically and plants in general from both a phylogenetic and functional standpoint. By recognizing the conserved and unique proteins present in the plant lineages, the landscape of proteins potentially involved in plastid function is revealed. Furthermore, investigation of proteins implicated in plastid functions will uncover their role in plant biology. Finally, investigation of red algae (particularly, Porphyra species) from a genomic, transcriptomic, and biochemical perspective grants new insights into the biology of these poorly studied organisms.





Selected Publications


1. Steven J. Karpowicz, Simon E. Prochnik, Arthur R. Grossman, Sabeeha S. Merchant. (2011) The GreenCut2 Resource, a Phylogenomically Derived Inventory of Proteins Specific to the Plant Lineage. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286(24): 21427-21439.


2. Arthur R. Grossman, Steven J. Karpowicz, Mark Heinnickel, David Dewez, Blaise Hamel, Rachel Dent, Krishna K. Niyogi, Xenie Johnson, Jean Alric, Francis-André Wollman, Huiying Li, Sabeeha S. Merchant. (2010) Phylogenomic Analysis of the Chlamydomonas Genome Unmasks Proteins Potentially Involved in Photosynthetic Function and Regulation. Photosynthesis Research. 106: 3-17.


3. Sabeeha S. Merchant*, Simon E. Prochnik*, Olivier Vallon, Elizabeth H. Harris, Steven J. Karpowicz, George B. Witman, Astrid Terry, Asaf Salamov, Lillian K. Fritz-Laylin, Laurence Maréchal-Drouard, Wallace F. Marshall, Liang-Hu Qu, David R. Nelson, Anton A. Sanderfoot, Martin H. Spalding, Vladimir V. Kapitonov, Qinghu Ren, Patrick Ferris, Erika Lindquist, Harris Shapiro, Susan M. Lucas, Jane Grimwood, Jeremy Schmutz, Chlamydomonas Annotation Team (77 authors), JGI Annotation Team (15 authors), Igor V. Grigoriev, Daniel S. Rokhsar, Arthur R. Grossman. (2007) The Chlamydomonas Genome Reveals the Evolution of Key Animal and Plant Functions. Science. 318(5848): 245-250.



Last updated: 1 August 2012