Andreas Fischer,
Professor - Ph.D. from the University of Bern (Switzerland), 1993.

Office: 210 Plant BioScience Building
Lab: 238 Plant BioScience Building

Office Phone: 406-994-5908
Lab Phone: 406-994-7666

Fax: 406-994-7600
Email Dr. Fischer


My work is focused on understanding the functional basis of cereal ‘senescence’. Senescence is the last developmental stage of plant cells, tissues, organs or even entire plants. The process of ‘monocarpic’ senescence, where the entire plant senesces and dies within a few weeks after flowering, is of particular interest as it occurs in all major crops including cereals. The visual aspects of senescence are quite striking (see figure below) and reflect the fact that major green leaf pigments (chlorophylls) are degraded, unmasking underlying yellow pigments. The process of nutrient remobilization from senescing leaves and stems to developing seeds of crops, which occurs roughly in parallel to chlorophyll degradation, contributes to economically important crop traits such as nutrient use efficiency and grain/seed protein content.

Within this general framework, my program is especially interested in the function of proteolytic enzymes preparing leaf protein nitrogen for retranslocation to developing seeds, and in the genetic and environmental factors determining the onset and rate of cereal leaf senescence. Work in my laboratory has been supported by USDA-AFRI, NSF, the Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology, and the US Barley Genome Project.

Andreas picturesSenescence in perennial and annual species. (a) A poplar (Populus sp.) tree on the MSU-Bozeman campus is shown in mid-October. Leaf chlorophylls are degraded, unmasking underlying pigments, and nutrients are remobilized to surviving plant parts. (b) Whole-plant (‘monocarpic’) senescence in an annual cereal crop, barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Starting with lower leaves, the whole plant senesces and dies over a time span of a few weeks after flowering, and leaf nutrients are retranslocated to developing seeds.






Research in cereal physiology and biochemistry. Identification of metabolic processes limiting for cereal quality and yield.


Diploma (equivalent of a Master’s degree) in botany, University of Bern, Switzerland 1989.
Ph.D. in plant physiology, University of Bern, Switzerland 1993.
Postdoctoral research associate, University of Bern, Switzerland 1993-1994 (plant physiology and biochemistry).
Postdoctoral research associate, INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique), Bordeaux, France 1994-1996 (plant physiology and biochemistry).
Postdoctoral research associate, Department of Botany / School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman, U.S.A. 1996-2000 (plant biochemistry and molecular biology).


 American Society of Plant Biologists (since 1993).


Ad-hoc reviewer for different plant science journals including (alphabetically) “BMC Plant Biology”, “Canadian Journal of Plant Science”, “European Journal of Plant Pathology”, “Journal of Cereal Science”, “Journal of Plant Physiology”, “Phytochemistry”, “Plant Cell”, “Plant Molecular Biology” and “Plant Physiology”.

Reviewer for different granting agencies including “Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council” (UK), “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (the “German NSF”), “National Science Foundation” (US) and “US-Israel Binational Science Foundation”.

Member, Editorial Board, “Plant Physiology and Biochemistry”.

Member, Faculty Senate, Montana State University.


Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology Undergraduate Studies Committee; Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology Promotion and Tenure Committee; University Library Committee.


German (native language); French/English (written and spoken fluently).


BIOB 105CS: Introduction to biotechnology (2000-2010).
BIOO 460: Plant metabolism (taught spring semester, every other year, to be taught spring 2011, 2013).
BIOO 437: Plant development (taught spring semester, every other year, to be taught spring 2012, 2014).



Lacerenza J.A., Parrott D.L. and Fischer A.M. (2010) A major grain protein content locus on barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) chromosome six influences flowering time and sequential leaf senescence. J. Exp. Bot. 61, 3137–3149. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erq139.

Parrott D.L., Martin J.M. and Fischer A.M. (2010) Analysis of barley (Hordeum vulgare) leaf senescence and protease gene expression: a family C1A cysteine protease is specifically induced under conditions characterized by high carbohydrate, but low to moderate nitrogen levels. New Phytol. 187, 313–331.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03278.x.

Heidlebaugh N.M., Trethewey B.R., Jukanti A.K., Parrott D.L., Martin J.M. and Fischer A.M. (2008) Effects of a barley (Hordeum vulgare) chromosome 6 grain protein content locus on whole-plant nitrogen reallocation under two different fertilisation regimes. Funct. Plant Biol. 35, 619-632. DOI: 10.1071/FP07247.

Jukanti A.K and Fischer A.M. (2008) A high-grain protein content locus on barley (Hordeum vulgare) chromosome 6 is associated with increased flag leaf proteolysis and nitrogen remobilization. Physiol. Plant. 132, 426-439. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2007.01044.x.

Jukanti A.K., Heidlebaugh N.M., Parrott D.L., Fischer I.A., McInnerney K. and Fischer A.M. (2008) Comparative transcriptome profiling of near-isogenic barley (Hordeum vulgare) lines differing in the allelic state of a major grain protein content locus identifies genes with possible roles in leaf senescence and nitrogen reallocation. New Phytol. 177, 333-349. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02270.x.

Parrott D.L., McInnerney K., Feller U. and Fischer A.M. (2007) Steam-girdling of barley (Hordeum vulgare) leaves leads to carbohydrate accumulation and accelerated leaf senescence, facilitating transcriptomic analysis of senescence-associated genes. New Phytol. 176, 56-69. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02158.x.

Jukanti A.K., Bruckner P.L and Fischer A.M. (2006) Molecular and biochemical characterization of polyphenol oxidases in developing kernels and senescing leaves of wheat (Triticum aestivum). Funct. Plant Biol. 33, 685-696. DOI: 10.1071/FP06050.

Parrott D., Yang L., Shama S. and Fischer A.M. (2005) Senescence is accelerated, and several proteases are induced by carbon “feast” conditions in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) leaves. Planta 222, 989-1000. DOI: 10.1007/s00425-005-0042-x.

Murphy K.A., Kuhle R.A., Fischer A.M., Anterola A.M. and Grimes H.D. (2005) The functional status of paraveinal mesophyll vacuoles changes in response to altered metabolic conditions in soybean leaves. Funct. Plant Biol. 32, 335-344. DOI: 10.1071/FP05006.

Martin J.M., Berg J.E., Fischer A.M., Jukanti A.K., Kephart K.D., Kushnak G.D., Nash D. and Bruckner P.L. (2005) Divergent selection for polyphenol oxidase and its influence on agronomic, milling, bread, and Chinese raw noodle quality traits. Crop Sci. 45, 85-91.

Yang L., Mickelson S., See D., Blake T.K. and Fischer A.M. (2004) Genetic analysis of the function of major leaf proteases in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) nitrogen remobilization. J. Exp. Bot. 55, 2607-2616. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erh267.

Jukanti A.K., Bruckner P.L. and Fischer A.M. (2004) Evaluation of wheat polyphenol oxidase genes. Cereal Chem. 81, 481-485.

Jukanti A.K., Bruckner P.L., Habernicht D.K., Foster C.R., Martin J.M. and Fischer A.M. (2003) Extraction and activation of wheat polyphenol oxidase by detergents: Biochemistry and applications. Cereal Chem. 80, 712-716.

Lanning S.P., Habernicht D., Martin J.M., Sherman J.D., Fischer A. and Talbert L.E. (2003) Agronomic and quality performance of progeny lines derived from spring wheat by durum wheat crosses. Cereal Chem. 80, 717-721.

Mickelson S., See D., Meyer F.D., Garner J.P., Foster C.R., Blake T.K. and Fischer A.M. (2003) Mapping of QTL associated with nitrogen storage and remobilization in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) leaves. J. Exp. Bot. 54, 801-812. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erg084.

Smidansky E.D., Martin J.M., Hannah L.C., Fischer A.M. and Giroux M.J. (2003) Seed yield and plant biomass increases in rice are conferred by deregulation of endosperm ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase. Planta 216, 656-664. DOI: 10.1007/s00425-002-0897-z.

Fuller M., Weichert H., Fischer A., Feussner I. and Grimes H. (2001) Activity of soybean lipoxygenase isoforms against esterified fatty acids indicates functional specificity. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 388, 146-154. DOI: 10.1006/abbi.2000.2269.

Fischer A.M., Dubbs W.E., Baker R.A., Fuller M.A., Stephenson L.C. and Grimes H.D. (1999) Protein dynamics, activity, and cellular localization of soybean lipoxygenases indicate novel functional roles for individual isoforms. Plant J. 19, 543-554.

Jauh G.-Y., Fischer A.M., Grimes H.D., Ryan C.A. and Rogers J.C. (1998) -tonoplast intrinsic protein defines unique plant vacuole functions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 12995-12999.

Fischer A., Brouquisse R. and Raymond P. (1998) Influence of senescence and of carbohydrate levels on the pattern of purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) leaf proteases. Physiol. Plant. 102, 385-395.

Fischer A., Brouquisse R. and Raymond P. (1995) Organic nitrogen reserves and their mobilization during sprouting of purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) tubers. J. Exp. Bot. 46, 1803-1808.

Fischer A. and Feller U. (1994) Seasonal changes in the pattern of assimilatory enzymes and of proteolytic activities in leaves of juvenile ivy. Ann. Bot. 74, 389-396.

Fischer A. and Feller U. (1994) Senescence and protein degradation in leaf segments of young winter wheat: influence of leaf age. J. Exp. Bot. 45, 103-109.

Fröhlich V., Fischer A., Ochs G., Wild B. and Feller U. (1994) Proteolytic inactivation of glutamine synthetase in extracts from wheat leaves: Effects of pH, inorganic ions and metabolites. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 21, 303-310.

Hildbrand M., Fischer A. and Feller U. (1994) Protein catabolism in bean leaf discs: accumulation of a soluble fragment of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase under oxygen deficiency. J. Exp. Bot. 45, 1197-1204.

Fischer A. and Feller U. (1993) The pattern of proteins and peptide hydrolase activities in shoots of field-grown winter wheat during the cold season. Agronomie 13, 293-299.

Fischer A., Salgo A., Hildbrand M. and Feller U. (1992) Cooperative protection of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase by ligands in extracts from wheat grains. Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen 188, 295-303.

Review Articles

Fischer A.M. (2011) The complex regulation of senescence. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci., in press.

Wingler A., Masclaux-Daubresse C. and Fischer A.M. (2009) Viewpoint: Sugars, senescence and ageing in plants and heterotrophic organisms. J. Exp. Bot. 60, 1063-1066. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erp067.

Feller U. and Fischer A. (1994) Nitrogen metabolism in senescing leaves. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 13, 241-273.

Book Chapters

Fischer A.M. (2007) Nutrient remobilization during leaf senescence. In: Senescence processes in plants. S. Gan, ed. Blackwell, Sheffield, UK, pp. 87-107.

Brouquisse R., Fischer A. and Raymond P. (1997) La protéolyse chez les plantes supérieures: nature, fonction et régulation. In: Assimilation de l’azote chez les plantes: Aspects physiologique, biochimique et moléculaire. J.F. Morot-Gaudry, ed. INRA Editions, Paris. (Contribution to a French text; the title reads: Proteolysis in higher plants: its nature, function and regulation).