Martha Cook

Phone: (309) 438-8549
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My research interests center on broad questions in plant evolutionary biology, including: the evolutionary origin of land plants from the green algae; the evolutionary origin and early diversification of vascular plants; the evolution of plant apical meristems and cell wall compounds; and use of algae and lower land plants as simple model systems for understanding the evolution of higher plant cell and developmental biology.

My approach is to study character evolution at the cellular level by examining a number of phylogenetically significant taxa. Most of what we know about plants is due to studies of highly derived seed plants, such as the economically important flowering plants and conifers.

I examine cellular features of the more basal seedless plants and their algal relatives in order to understand how characteristics of plants may have evolved. I employ both scanning and transmission electron microscopy, as well as brightfield and fluorescence light microscopy in my work.