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Philip Becraft

Philip W Becraft

  • Professor Emeritus

Contact Info

2114 Molecular Biology


  • B.S., Botany, University of Montana, Missoula, 1980
  • M.S., Agronomy, Montana State University, Bozeman, 1987
  • Ph.D., Genetics, University of California, Berkeley, 1992

More Information

Dr. Becraft, Professor, received his B.A. in Botany from the University of Montana, Missoula, his M.S. in Agronomy from Montana State University, Bozeman, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduation, Dr. Becraft completed an NSF postdoctoral Fellow/Courtesy Assistant Professor position in the Horticulture Science Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. In 1996, Dr. Becraft joined the faculty of Iowa State University as Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2002, and full Professor in 2009.

Research Description

My research interests center on the regulation of plant growth and development. One major project focuses on maize endosperm development, which is an attractive system because of the endosperm’s importance to world food and industry, and because of its amenability to genetic analysis. Using molecular genetics and genomics, we have established that a genetic hierarchy regulates aleurone development and isolated several of the key genes. We are also interested in the regulation of biomass yield and are studying genes involved in the hormonal regulation of growth as well as identifying genes that promote  biomass production by studying mutants that cause a dwarf phenotype.


  • Wu, H., Gontarek, B.C., Yi, G., Beall, B.D., Neelakandan, A.K., Adhikari, B., Chen, R., McCarty, D.R., Severin, A., Becraft, P.W. (2020). The thick aleurone1 gene encodes a NOT1 subunit of the CCR4-NOT complex and regulates cell patterning in endosperm. Plant Physiology 184:
  • Hughes, T.E., Sedelnikova, O.V., Wu, H., Becraft, P.W., Langdale, J.A. (2019). Redundant SCARECROWgenes pattern distinct cell layers in roots and leaves of maize. Development 146: dev177543.  doi: 10.1242/dev.177543.
  • Tello-Ruiz, M.K., Marco, C.F., Hsu, F.-M., Khangura, R.S., Qiao, P., Sapkota, S., Stitzer, M.C., Wasikowski, R., *Wu, H., Zhan, J., Chougule, K., Barone, L.C., Ghiban, C., Muna, D., Olson, A.C., Wang, L.C., Ware, D.C., Micklos, D.A., 2019. Double triage to identify poorly annotated genes in maize: The missing link in community curation. bioRxiv, 654848. Note: Hao Wu was a postdoc in the Becraft lab and attended a workshop that resulted in this publication.
  • Higgins, D.M., Lowry, E.G., Kanizay, L.B., Becraft, P.W., Hall, D.W., and Dawe, R.K. (2018). Fitness Costs and Variation in Transmission Distortion Associated with the Abnormal Chromosome 10 Meiotic Drive System in Maize. Genetics 208, 297-305.
  • Gabay-Laughnan, S., Settles, A.M., Hannah, L.C., Porch, T.G., Becraft, P.W., McCarty, D.R., Koch, K.E., Zhao, L., Kamps, T.L., Chamusco, K.C., and Chase, C.D. (2018). Restorer-of-Fertility Mutations Recovered in Transposon-Active Lines of S Male-Sterile Maize. G3 8, 291-302.
  • Gontarek, B.C., and Becraft, P.W. (2017). Aleurone. In BA Larkins, ed. Maize Kernel Development. CABI, Boston, MA, pp 68-80.
  • Char, S.N., Neelakandan, A.K., Nahampun, H., Frame, B., Main, M., Spalding, M.H., Becraft, P.W., Meyers, B.C., Walbot, V., Wang, K., and Yang, B. (2017). An Agrobacterium-delivered CRISPR/Cas9 system for high-frequency targeted mutagenesis in maize. Plant Biotechnol J 15, 257-268.
  • Gontarek, B.C., Neelakandan, A.K., Wu, H., Becraft, PW, (2016). NKD transcription factors are central regulators of maize endosperm development. Plant Cell 28, 2916-2936.
  • Kir, G., Ye, H., Nelissen, H., Neelakandan, A.K., Kusnandar, A.S., Luo, A., Inzé, D., Sylvester, A.W., Yin Y., Becraft, P.W. (2015). RNA interference knockdown of BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE1 in maize reveals novel functions for brassinosteroid signaling in controlling plant architecture. Plant Physiology 169: 826-839.
  • Yi, G., Neelakandan, A.K., Gontarek, B.C., Vollbrecht, E., and Becraft, P.W. (2015). The naked endosperm genes encode duplicate INDETERMINATE domain transcription factors required for maize endosperm cell patterning and differentiation. Plant Physiology 167, 443-456.
  • Chettoor, A.M., Yi, G., Gomez, E., Hueros, G., Meeley, R.B., Becraft, P.W. (2015). A putative PORR protein gene is essential for maize kernel development. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology. 57: 236-246.
  • Becraft, P.W. (2013). Using transposons for genetic mosaic analysis of plant development. In T.A. Peterson, ed, Plant Transposable Elements: Methods and Protocols. Humana Press, pp 21-42.
  • Becraft, P.W., ed (2013). Seed Genomics. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA
  • Olsen O-A. and Becraft, P.W. (2013). Endosperm Development. In P.W. Becraft, ed, Seed Genomics. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA, pp 43-62.
  • Becraft, P.W. (2012). Endosperm Imprinting: A Child Custody Battle? Current Biology 22, R93-R95.
  • Becraft, P.W. and Gutierrez-Marcos, J. (2012). Endosperm development: dynamic processes and cellular innovations underlying sibling altruism. WIREs Developmental Biology.
  • Myers, A.M., James, M.G., Lin, Q., Yi, G., Stinard, P.S., Hennen-Bierwagen, T.A. and Becraft, P.W. (2011). Maize opaque5 encodes monogalactosyldiacylglycerol synthase and specifically affects galactolipids necessary for amyloplast and chloroplast function. Plant Cell 23, 2331-2347.
  • Yi, G., Lauter, A.M., Scott, M.P. and Becraft, P.W. (2011). The thick aleurone1 mutant defines a negative regulation of maize aleurone cell fate that functions downstream of dek1. Plant Physiology 156, 1826-1836.
  • Becraft, P.W. and Yi, G. (2011). Regulation of aleurone development in cereal grains. Journal of Experimental Botany 62, 1669-1675.
  • Yi, G., Luth, D., Goodman, T.D., Lawrence, C.J. and Becraft, P.W. (2009). High-throughput linkage analysis of Mutator insertion sites in maize. The Plant Journal 58, 883-892.
  • Salas Fernandez, M.G., Becraft, P.W., Yin, Y. and Lübberstedt, T. (2009). From dwarves to giants? Plant height manipulation for biomass yield. Trends in Plant Science 14, 454-461.
  • Settles, A.M., Holding, D., Tan, B., Latshaw, S., Liu, J., Suzuki, M., Li, L., O’Brien, B., Fajardo, D., Wroclawska, E. et al. (2007). Sequence-indexed mutations in maize using the UniformMu transposon-tagging population. BMC Genomics 8, 116.
  • Becraft, P. W. 2007. Aleurone cell development. In “Endosperm – Development and Molecular biology” :45-56.
  • Cao, X., Costa, L.M., Biderre-Petit, C., Kbhaya, B., Dey, N., Perez, P., McCarty, D.R., Gutierrez-Marcos, J.F., and Becraft, P.W. 2007. Abscisic acid and stress signals induce Viviparous1 expression in seed and vegetative tissues of maize. Plant Physiology. 143:720-731.
  • Cao, X., Li, K., Suh, S.-G., Guo, T., and Becraft, P.W. 2005. Molecular analysis of the CRINKLY4 gene family in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta 220:645-657.
  • Lai, J., Dey, N., Kim, C.-S., Bharti, A.K., Rudd, S., Mayer, K.F.X., Larkins, B., Becraft, P., and Messing, J. 2004. Characterization of the maize endosperm transcriptome and its comparison to the rice genome. Genome Research 14:1932-1937.
  • Becraft, P.W. 2002. Receptor kinase signaling in plant development. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 18: 163-192.
  • Becraft, P.W., Li, K., Dey, N., and Asuncion-Crabb, Y.T. 2002. The maize dek1gene functions in embryonic pattern formation and in cell fate specification. Development 129: 5217-5225.
  • Becraft, P.W., Kang, S.-H., and Suh, S.-G.. 2001. The maize CRINKLY4 receptor kinase controls a cell-autonomous differentiation response. Plant Physiol. 127:486-496.
  • Jin, P., Guo, T. and Becraft, P.W. 2000. The maize CR4 receptor-like kinase mediates a growth factor-like differentiation response. Genesis 27:104-116.