K-State Division of Biology



Michael A. Herman


Ph.D. 1991, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Developmental Genetics and Ecological Genomics


266 Chalmers Hall
(785) 532-6741

The Herman Lab
Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology Web

Research Focus

There are two very different projects ongoing in the Herman laboratory.

The first concerns the control of cell polarity in developing systems using the nematode, C. elegans as a model. We are studying cell polarity in the free-living soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans because it has a small number of cells, all of which can be seen in the light microscope, and is amenable to genetic analysis. The overall goal of this project is to understand how cell polarity is generated and maintained during animal development. Our approach is to identify and study genes involved in the control of cell polarity by identifying mutations that disrupt the polarities of individual cells. Much of our work has focused on the role Wnt signaling pathways play in the control of cell polarity.

The second project is very different and aims to link responses of living systems to environmental change at the genetic level. The question is, which genes are most important for how organisms respond to the environment. Our approach is to implement projects that meld the disciplines of genetics and ecology in the relatively new discipline of Ecological Genomics. The Herman Lab is part of a multidisciplinary group that is investigating the genetic basis for the changes in nematode species composition in response to environmental cues. The long-term goal of this project is to discover which genes are induced or repressed in response to variations in resource availability.

Selected Research Publications

Ecological Genomics

Darby, BJ, Todd, TC, Herman, MA 2013 High-throughput amplicon sequencing of rRNA genes requires a copy number correction to accurately reflect the effects of management practices on soil nematode community structure. Mol. Ecol., in press.

Coolon, JD, Jones, KL, Todd, TC, Blair, JM, Herman, MA. 2013 Long-term nitrogen amendment alters soil bacterial diversity and assemblage in tallgrass prairie. PLoS One, Jun 28;8(6): e67884

Wheeler DC, Darby BD, Herman, MA 2012.  Several grassland soil nematodes species are insensitive to RNA-mediated interference. Journal of Nematology, 44:92-101.

Darby, B.J., Jones, K.L., Wheeler, D., and Herman, M.A. (2011). Normalization and centering of array-based heterologous genome hybridization based on divergent control probes. BMC Bioinformatics 12, 183

Coolon, JD, Jones, KL, Carr, BC, Todd, TC, Herman, MA. 2009. C. elegans genomic response to soil bacteria predicts environment-specific genetic effects on life history traits. PLoS Genetics, 5(6): e1000503. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000503.

Herman, MA; Coolon, JD; Jones, KL; Todd, TC. 2009. Ecological Genomics of Nematode Community Interactions: Model and Non-model Approaches. In Evolutionary Biology from Concept to Application II, ed. by Pierre Pontarotti, Springer: Heidelberg, Germany, p. 303-321.(PDF)

Kammenga, J.E., Herman, M.A., Ouberg. N.J., Johnson, L.C., Breitling, R. (2007), Microarray challenges in ecology, TREE., 22, 273-279.(PDF)

Ungerer, M.C., Johnson, L.C., Herman, M.A.( 2008) Ecological genomics: understanding gene functions in the natural environment. Heredity, 100, 178-183.(PDF)

Jones, K.L., Todd, T.C., Coolon, J.D., Blair, J. M., and Herman, M.A. 2006. Molecular approach for assessing responses of microbial-feeding nematodes to burning and chronic nitrogen enrichment in a native grassland, Mol. Ecol., 15, 2601-2609.(PDF)

Jones, K.L., Todd, T.C., and Herman, M.A. 2006 Development of taxon-specific markers for high-throughput screening of microbial-feeding nematodes, Molecular Ecology Notes, 6, 712-714.(PDF)

Cell Polarity

Hajuskova, M, Jindra, M, Herman, MA, Asahina, M. 2009. Nuclear receptor NHR-25 cooperates with Wnt/ß-catenin asymmetry pathway to control T cell differentiation in C. elegans. J Cell Sci.122:3051.

Yu H, Seah A, Herman MA, Ferguson EL, Horvitz HR, Sternberg PW 2009. Wnt and EGF pathways act together to induce C. elegans male hook development. Dev Biol, 327: 419-432.(PDF)

Van Hoffelen, S. and Herman, M.A. 2009. Analysis of Wnt signaling during C. elegans postembryonic development. Methods Mol Biol., 469, 87-102.(PDF)

Wu, M. and Herman, M.A. 2007. Asymmetric localization of LIN-17/Fz and MIG-5/Dsh are required for the the asymmetric B cell division in C. elegans. Dev. Biol., 303:650-662. (PDF)

Walston, T., Guo, C., Proenca, R., Wu, M. Herman, M., Hardin, J., Hedgecock, E. 2006. mig-5/Dsh controls cell fate determination and cell migration in C. elegans. Dev. Biol, 298: 485-497.(PDF)

Arata, Y., Kouike, H. Zhang, Y., Herman, M.A., Okano, H, and Sawa, H. 2006. The Wnt signal and Hox cooperate to express PSA-3/Meis, which determines specific daughter fates after asymmetric division in C. elegans, Dev Cell, 11, 105-115.(PDF)

Wu, M. and Herman, M.A. 2006. A novel noncanonical Wnt pathway is involved in the regulation fo the asymmetric B cell division in C. elegans. Dev. Biol, 293:316-329.(PDF)

Van Hoffelen, S. and Herman, M.A. 2006. Stem Cells: Specifying stem cell niches in the worm. Curr. Biol. 16, R175-177.(PDF)

Herman, M.A. Hermaphrodite cell fate specification. (January 09, 2006). in WormBook, ed. The C. elegans Research Community, Wormbook,doi/10.1895/wormbook.1.39.1,

Herman, M.A. and Wu, M. (2004). Noncanonical Wnt signaling pathways in C. elegans converge on POP-1/Tcf and control cell polarity. Frontiers in Bioscience 9, 1530-1539.(PDF)

Hoeppner, D., Spector, M.S., Ratliff, T.R., Kinchen, J.M. Granat, S., Lin, S-C, Bhusri, S.S., Conradt, B., Herman, M.A., and Hengartner, M.O. 2004. eor-1 and eor-2 are required for cell-specific apoptotic death in C. elegans, Dev. Biol, 274, 125-138.(PDF)

Zhao, X. Sawa, H., and Herman, M. A. (2003). tcl-2 encodes a novel protein that acts synergistically with the Wnt signaling pathway in C. elegans. Dev. Biol., 256, 276-289.(PDF)

Herman, M.A. (2003). Wnt signaling in C. elegans. In Wnt signaling in Development, M. Kühl, Editor. Landes Biosciences: Georgetown, TX, USA, pp.187-212.(PDF)

Herman, M.A. (2002). Control of cell polarity by noncanonical Wnt signaling in C. elegans. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 13, 233-241.(PDF)

Xiaojun Zhao, Ying Yang, David H. A. Fitch, and Michael A. Herman (2002). TLP-1 is an asymmetric cell fate determinant that responds to Wnt signals and controls male tail tip morphogenesis in C. elegans. Development 129, 1497-1508.(PDF)

Herman, M. A. (2001). C. elegans POP-1/TCF functions in a canonical Wnt pathway that controls cell migration and a noncanonical Wnt pathway that controls cell polarity. Development 128, 581-590.(PDF)

Korswagen, H. C., Herman, M. A., and Clevers, H. C. (2000). Distinct beta-catenins mediate adhesion and signalling functions in C. elegans. Nature 406, 527-532.(PDF)

Herman, M. A., Ch'ng, Q., Hettenbach, S. M., Ratliff, T. M., Kenyon, C., and Herman, R. K. (1999). EGL-27 is similar to a metastasis-associated factor and controls cell polarity and cell migration in C. elegans. Development 126, 1055-1064.(PDF)

Herman, M. A., Vassilieva, L. L., Horvitz, H. R., Shaw, J. E., and Herman, R. K. (1995). The C. elegans gene lin-44, which controls the polarity of certain asymmetric cell divisions, encodes a Wnt protein and acts cell nonautonomously.Cell 83, 101-110.(abstract)

Herman, M. A. and Horvitz, H. R. (1994). The Caenorhabditis elegans gene lin-44 controls the polarity of asymmetric cell divisions. Development 120, 1035-1047.(PDF)


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