Edward Golenberg

Edward Golenberg



1-313577-6891 (fax)


3123 Biological Sciences Bldg.


Biological Sciences

Edward Golenberg

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

Evolutionary Genetics

Plant Developmental Evolution

Sex Determination

Sexual Dimorphism


Morphological, metabolic, and behavioral differences among individuals are engendered to some extent by variations in genetic composition. We often hear that “it is in our DNA.” Such differences among individuals in a population are the fodder for evolutionary change and speciation. But to what extent are those differences the result of underlying genetic differences? Can complex traits be determined by a few genes or gene networks? Our lab studies two such complex traits in plant morphological development and evolution. We are studying how species with hermaphroditic flowers (having both male and female organs) evolve to have separate male and female flowers that are morphologically distinct. What are the genes that trigger sex determination and what are the genes that drive the development of different morphologies in such flowers? These studies have important implications both on basic and applied scientific levels, as crop yields can be increased in major food crops by controlling sexual development and seed and fruit set. Our second major project attempts to mine the suite of expressed genes that are involved in the development of flat appendages in both plants and animals. Over evolutionary time, organisms have repeatedly evolved laminar structures as a means of increasing surface to volume ratios as the organisms increase in size. This is important for plants and animals to increase their absorption of necessary energy and nutrients, and to efficiently remove dangerous waste products. Are there ancient molecular toolkits that multicellular organisms share that are regularly called upon to solve this structural need? Can we use modern genomic and post-genomic approaches to discover if there are such basic things as “Rules of Life?” This research is funded by NSF.


  • PhD Stony Brook University (SUNY at Stony Brook)
  • BA Johns Hopkins University

Awards and grants

NSF RoL Mining for Ancient Toolkits: Emergence of Planar Structures across Kingdoms (Co-PIs Popadic, Hao) November 2018- October 2020
USGS/GLRI Innovative Phragmites Control Strategies: Invasive Species Control and Bioremediation via RNAi treatment 2015-2019 (5 year proposal, renewed annually)

Selected publications

Sather, D.N., Jovanovic, M., and Golenberg, E.M. (2010). Functional analysis of B and C class floral organ genes in spinach demonstrates their role in sexual dimorphism. BMC Plant Biol 10, 46. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=20226063

Diggle, P.K., Di Stilio, V.S., Gschwend, A.R., Golenberg, E.M., Moore, R.C., Russell, J.R.W., and Sinclair, J.P. (2011). Multiple developmental processes underlie sex differentiation in angiosperms. Trends in genetics : TIG 27, 368-376. (One of three corresponding authors.) http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0168952511000643

Kariyat RR, Sinclair JP, Golenberg EM (2013) Following Darwin’s trail: Interactions affecting the evolution of plant mating systems. American Journal of Botany 100: 999-1001 10.3732/ajb.130015 (4 citations)

Golenberg, E.M. and West, N.W. (2013). Hormonal Interactions and Gene Regulation Can Link Monoecy and Environmental Plasticity to the Evolution of Dioecy in Plants. American Journal of Botany 6: 1-16. http://www.amjbot.org/content/early/2013/03/27/ajb.1200544.abstract

Naeger, J.A., and Golenberg, E.M. (2016). Mode and tempo of sequence and floral evolution within the Anserineae. Plant Systematics and Evolution 302, 385-398. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00606-015-1269-z

West, N.W., and Golenberg, E.M. (2018). Gender-specific expression of GIBBERELLIC ACID INSENSITIVE is critical for unisexual organ initiation in dioecious Spinacia oleracea. New Phytologist 217, 1322–1334. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.14919


Courses taught by Edward Golenberg

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022