Brian Waters


·Waters Research Lab

Brian M. Waters

Associate Professor

Area of Expertise: Plant Breeding and Genetics

B.S. Agronomy, Missouri State University, 1993

M.S. Agronomy (Plant Physiology), University of Missouri, 1996

Ph.D. Agronomy and Nutritional Sciences (Plant Molecular Biology), University of Missouri, 2002

Area of Focus

Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Molecular Physiology

Research Interests

Acidic or alkaline soils occur on most of the earth, and these conditions limit mineral nutrient availability to plants. Plant-based foods are a primary source of human nutrition that is typically at suboptimal mineral density. My research focus is in plant nutritional physiology and molecular genetics, and seeks to gain a mechanistic understanding of how plants respond to mineral nutrient limitation, the physiological processes that move minerals from the soil, through the plant, and into the edible portions, and to determine which genes or gene products carry out or regulate these processes.

Research areas in the lab include regulation of plant responses to iron deficiency stress, biofortification of crops by increasing mineral density in edible portions of plants, control of carotenoid accumulation and other quality traits in melon (Cucumis melo) fruit, and nutrient use efficiency. Our approach combines traditional plant physiology with molecular biology, genomics, genetics, and use of natural variation.

Major Project Activities

  • Regulation of mineral deficiency stress responses.
  • Mineral partitioning dynamics and regulation of gene activity over the plant life cycle.
  • QTL mapping of biofortification related traits.
  • Expression profiling of genes involved in mineral remobilization during leaf senescence and translocation to seeds during seed fill.


I currently teach Scientific Writing and Communication (AGRO/HORT 403/803). This course serves as a capstone for the Plant Biology major and the Horticulture (Research Option) major, and is an ACE 10 certified course. The course is offered every spring. For two years, I have participated in the Peer Review of Teaching Program, and produced course portfolios about measuring student learning in the course.

Building Hydroponic Systems from Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary.


  • Kastoori Ramamurty, R and Waters BM (2015) Identification of fruit quality and morphology QTLs in melon (Cucumis melo) using a population derived from flexuosus and cantalupensis botanical groups. (Accepted at Euphytica 1/14/2015)
  • Mary J. Guttieri, P. Stephen Baenziger, Katherine Frels, Brett Carver, Brian Arnall, and Brian M. Waters.  (2015) Breeding Wheat for Increased Zinc and Decreased Cadmium Concentration in Grain: Insights from a Winter Wheat Association Mapping Panel. (Accepted at Crop Science 1/14/2015)
  • Mary J. Guttieri, P. Stephen Baenziger, Katherine Frels, Brett Carver, Brian Arnall, and Brian M. Waters (2015) Variation for Grain Mineral Concentration in a Diversity Panel of Current and Historical Great Plains Hard Winter Wheat Germplasm (Accepted at Crop Science 12/22/14)
  • Palmer, Nathan; Donze-Reiner, Teresa; Horvath, David; Heng-Moss, Tiffany; Waters, Brian; Tobias, Christian; Sarath, Gautam  (2015) Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L) flag leaf transcriptomes reveal molecular signatures of leaf development, senescence, and mineral dynamics. Functional & Integrative Genomics 15: 1-16
  • Henry C, Bledsoe SW, Siekman A, Kollman A, Waters BM, Feil, R, Stitt, M, and Lagrimini LM (2014) The Trehalose Pathway in Maize: Conservation and Gene Regulation in Response to Diurnal Cycle and Extended Darkness. Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 5959-5973
  • Waters BM, McInturf SA*, Amundsen K. (2014) Transcriptomic and physiological characterization of the fefe mutant of melon (Cucumis melo) reveals new aspects of iron-copper crosstalk. New Phytologist 203: 1128-1145 (* = undergraduate author)
  • Kastoori Ramamurthy R, Jedlicka J, Graef G, Waters BM (2014) Identification of new QTLs for seed mineral, cysteine, and methionine concentrations in soybean (Glycine max). Molecular Breeding 34: 431-445
  • Waters BM, McInturf SA, and Stein RJ (2012) Rosette iron deficiency transcript and microRNA profiling reveal links between copper and iron homeostasis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 5903-5918
  • Stein, RJ and Waters, BM (2012) Use of natural variation reveals core genes in the transcriptome of iron-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 1039-1055
  • Walker, EL and Waters BM (2011)  The role of transition metal homeostasis in plant seed development. Current Opinion in Plant Biology  14: 318-324
  • Waters BM and Sankaran RP (2011)  Moving micronutrients from the soil to the seeds:  genes and physiological processes from a biofortification perspective. Plant Science 180: 562-574
  • Waters BM, Uauy C, Dubcovsky J, Grusak MA  (2009) Wheat (Triticum aestivum) NAM proteins regulate the translocation of iron, zinc, and nitrogen compounds from vegetative tissues to grain. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 4263-4274
  • Waters BM and Grusak MA (2008) Whole-plant mineral partitioning throughout the life cycle in the ecotypes Columbia, Landsberg erecta, Cape Verde Islands, and the mutant line ysl1ysl3 of Arabidopsis thaliana. New Phytologist  177:  389-405
  • Waters BM, Lucena C, Romera FJ, Jester GG*, Wynn AN*, Rojas, CL, Alcántara E, Pérez-Vicente R (2007) Ethylene involvement in the regulation of the H+-ATPase (CsHA1) gene and of the ferric reductase (CsFRO1) and the iron transporter (CsIRT1) genes isolated from cucumber plants. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 45:  293-301  (* = undergraduate author)
  • Lucena C, Waters BM, Romera FJ, Garcia MJ, Morales M, Alcántara E, Pérez-Vicente R (2006)  Ethylene could influence ferric reductase, iron transporter and H+-ATPase gene expression by affecting FER (or FER-like) gene activity. Journal of Experimental Botany 57: 4145-4154
  • Waters BM, Chu HH, DiDonato RJ, Roberts LA, Eisley RB, Lahner B, Salt DE, Walker EL  (2006)  Mutations in Arabidopsis Yellow Stripe-Like1 and Yellow Stripe-Like3 reveal their roles in metal ion homeostasis and loading of metal ions in seeds. Plant Physiology 141: 1446-1458