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Source: Lawrence Davis, 785-532-6124,
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535,

Friday, October 29, 2010


MANHATTAN -- The effects of winter on plant growth will be the focus of the 13th annual Richard H. and Elizabeth C. Hageman Distinguished Lectureship in Agricultural Biochemistry at Kansas State University.

Richard Amasino, professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present "Memories of winter: vernalization is an environmentally induced epigenetic switch" at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in 120 Ackert Hall. Amasino is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research investigator.

Many plants, including winter annuals, require relatively long periods of cold exposure during winter to initiate flowering in the spring. This change is known as vernalization. Plants need to be exposed to a certain amount of cold to represent a complete winter. This ensures that flowering only occurs when spring has arrived, rather than during a temporary warming in the middle of winter. Vernalization is vital for major crops like wheat and canola, as well as for spring flowers.

Amasino will also present the colloquium "Biochemistry teaching and earth history" from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 in 36 Chalmers Hall. Refreshments will be served at 9:15 a.m.

Both the lecture and colloquium are free and open to the public.

Amasino earned a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University. He earned his master's and doctorate from the University of Indiana. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington when tools for plant transformation and genetic engineering were just being developed. His doctoral research work was on how hormonal balance determines shoot differentiation in tissue culture. Since that time he has investigated how plants use epigenetic mechanisms, such as methylation of DNA and proteins, to regulate the action of genes. Epigenetics adds another level of control on top of classic genetics. Amasino's work has had a major impact on our understanding of how plants control their flowering response to their environment.

The Richard H. and Elizabeth C. Hageman Distinguished Lectureship in Agricultural Biochemistry is supported by an endowment from the Hagemans. The late Richard Hageman, a Kansas native and K-State alum, was a research chemist and professor who studied plant nitrogen metabolism and rate-limiting enzymes in crops. Elizabeth Hageman, a retired biochemist, was involved in pioneering work with the in-vitro culture of bovine mammary gland tissue.