Grant Cramer

Photo of Grant Cramer
Grant Cramer


Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Nevada/Mail Stop 330
1664 North Virginia Street
Reno,  Nevada   89557

Office: (775) 784-4204
Lab: 784-4225

Fax: 784-1419

Cell: 775-770-8225

Building: Howard Medical Science,  Office 205
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Clayton Valley High School, Concord, CA 1973
B.S. 1980 University of Massachusetts, Amherst
M.S. 1982 University of California, Davis
Ph.D. 1985 University of California, Davis


My major interest is in the regulation of plant growth and cell expansion. In particular, my laboratory is focused on to environmental problems, soil salinity and elevated carbon dioxide, and how these conditions affect growth.

There is a very strong linkage between cell elongation, plant productivity and crop yields. The production of all plant parts is dependent upon the supply of external resources, such as water, mineral nutrients or carbon. Cell elongation is important for the capture of these resources, particularly when they are limiting growth. An increase in cell size will increase cell surface area, enabling roots to explore more of the soil for water and minerals, and leaves to capture more photosynthetic radiation. The size of a stressed plant is dependent upon cell production and cell expansion, both of which may be affected by stress. The intensive use of resources by man has had it side-effects. Two notable effects are the increase in atmospheric CO2 leading to the “greenhouse effect” and the increase of salinized soils of irrigated lands leading to reductions in crop productivity on those soils. In general, plants have not yet adapted to fully utilize the resources in these new environments. Through the use of new techniques in biotechnology, we can make better plants, which are more suitably adapted to these environmental conditions.

Recently, my lab has been investigating the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on cell wall composition and biosynthesis. We believe we can alter cell wall biosynthesis and growth in transgenic plants to enable them to better utilize the more abundant carbon source.

By inserting extra copies of the gene for UDP-Glc dehydrogenase, we have increased the activity of this key enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of plant cell walls and we have evidence that we are able to increase plant growth as a result. Such plants are likely to be more productive thereby increasing crop yields. We would expect that these plants would perform even better in an elevated CO2 environment. This hypothesis is addressed in our current investigations.

For the last two decades, my research has focused on salinity stress. The inhibition of plant growth by salinity involves two components. Initially, the plant experiences a water stress, but with time salts accumulate in the plant creating an additional ionic stress. In my laboratory, we are currently focusing on how salinity inhibits plant growth by these two components. The water stress component has been investigated by studying the immediate effects of salinity on the growth parameters regulating leaf elongation. We found that salinity increases the apparent yield threshold of the cell walls in the growing region of the leaf, which results in lower growth rates. We have interesting correlations of the plant response to the plant growth regulator, abscisic acid with salinity stress, particularly the effects on growth, cell wall yield threshold and cytosolic calcium. We are now actively investigating the effects of salinity on secretion of proteins, poly- and oligosaccharides to the cell wall.

We are investigating the ionic stress component by developing methods for quantifying cytosolic calcium and sodium activities. We are interested in the mechanisms by which the salts are absorbed into or excluded from the plant. We are investigating the regulation of sodium and calcium activities using state of the art fluorescent techniques combined with confocal microscopy in living tissues. Finally, the identification and characterization of the mechanisms regulating plant growth under saline conditions is leading to the molecular characterization and manipulation of proteins associated with salt-tolerance in plants and the stimulation of growth by elevated carbon dioxide. Currently we are investigating the effects of these environmental conditions on the expression and regulation of key proteins involved in cell wall synthesis and secretion.


I am currently teaching two courses: Plant Biology, which is taught at the junior level and Plant Physiology, which is taught at the senior and graduate level.

The Plant Biology course is an introductory course to plants designed to encourage and excite the students about plants. Students are involved in plant collections, plant identification, and a plant growing contest (winner gets dinner for two at their favorite restaurant). The course focuses on timely topics such as environmental issues, medicinal uses of plants, agriculture and biotechnology. These issues are challenged in a debate format throughout the course. There are three teams; one team that is pro issue, one that is con, and one that is judge of the debate. Teams roles are assigned by the instructor and change with each new debate, giving all a chance at each role. The debates help students develop critical thinking skills.

The Plant Physiology course is rigorous. It can be divided into four portions. The first portion of the course focuses on the quantitative aspects of transport (water, ions and sucrose) into the cell and through the plant. The second portion focuses on photosynthesis and respiration, the third portion focuses on growth, hormones and plant development, and the fourth portion attempts to integrate the first three with lectures on plant responses to various environmental stresses. Throughout this course we read scientific papers on topics already discussed in class. This is a group project. Groups work on the paper outside of class with each member having a different role. One student presents the group summary in class. Reading and discussion of scientific papers help students develop critical thinking skills.

I enjoy teaching and like to take creative and innovative approaches (some don’t work and have to be abandoned or modified). I incorporate the use of field trips, film, computers and web pages on the internet into my lectures and exercises. I also participate with the Plant-Ed bulletin board on the internet, which is a great source of information and ideas from excellent colleagues from around the world who are interested in teaching Plant Biology.


Book Chapter(s)
Plant proteogenomics: from protein extraction to improved gene predictions. Chapman, B., Castellana, N., Apffel, A., Ghan, R., Cramer, G. R., Bellgard, M., Haynes, P. A., Van Sluyter, S. C. 2013, In M. Zhou and T. Veenstra (Ed.), Proteomics for Biomarker Discovery. Series: Methods in Molecular Biology, Vol. 1002 (vol. 1002, pp. 267-294). Humana Press.
Bioinformatics Tools in Grapevine Genomics. Grimplet, J., Dickerson, J. A., Adam-Blondon, A.F., Cramer, G. R. 2010, In Martinez-Zapater & Adam-Blondon (Ed.), Grapevine Genomics. Bioinformatics Tools in Grapevine Genomics. Encyclopedia of Plant Genomics/Scientific Publishers, Inc..
Functional Genomics: Proteomics and Metabolomics. Lund, S., Cramer, G. R. 2010, In Martinez-Zapater & Adam-Blondon (Ed.), Grapevine Genomics: Functional Genomics: Proteomics and Metabolomics. Encyclopedia of Plant Genomics/Scientific Publishers, Inc.
Transcriptomic response is more sensitive to water deficit in shoots than roots of Vitis riparia Vedbar Singh Khadka, Kimberley Vaughn, Juan Xie, Padmapriya Swaminathan, Qin Ma,Grant R. Cramer and Anne Y. Fennell 2019, BMC Plant Biology
What makes for sound science? Costa, F., Cramer, G. R., Finnegan, E. J. 2017, BMC Plant Biology, 17, 196.
Early and Late Responses of Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) to Water Deficit: A Proteomics Perspective. Cramer, G. R., Hopper, D. W., Quilici, D. R., Woolsey, R. J., Cushman, J. C., Vincent, D., Van Sluyter, S. C., George, I., Haynes, P. A. 2017, Acta Horticulturae, 1157, 263-272.
The common transcriptional subnetworks of the grape berry skin in the late stages of ripening. Ghan, R., Petereit, J., Tillet, R., Schlauch, K., Toubiana, D., Fait, A., Cramer, G. R. 2017, BMC Plant Biology, 17(1), 94.
Transcriptomic network analyses of leaf dehydration responses identify highly connect ABA and ethylene signaling hubs in three grapevine species differing in drought tolerance. Hopper DW, Ghan R, Schlauch KA, Cramer GR. 2016, BMC Plant Biol.;16(1):118. PMID: 27215785.
Abscisic acid transcriptomic signal varies with grapevine organ. Rattanakon S, Ghan R, Gambetta GA, Deluc LG, Schlauch KA, Cramer GR. 2016, BMC Plant Biol.;16(1):72. PMID:27001301 PMCID: PMC4802729
Short day transcriptomic programming during induction of dormancy in grapevine. Fennell AY, Schlauch KA, Gouthu S, Deluc LG, Khadka V, Sreekantan L, Grimplet J, Cramer GR, Mathiason KL. 2015, Front Plant Sci. 4;6:834. PMID: 26582400 PMCID: PMC4632279
Cultivar specific metabolic changes in grapevines berry skins in relation to deficit irrigation and hydraulic behavior. Hochberg, U., Degu, A., Cramer, G. R., Rachmilevitch, S., Fait, A. 2015, Plant Physiol Biochem, 88, 42-52.
DIGE substantially reduces protein spot variability caused by 2-D PAGE and increases detection of differentially expressed proteins. Cramer, G. R., Deluc, L. G., Spreeman, K., Schegg, K., Fennell, A. 2014, Acta Horticulturae, 1046, 385-388.
Transcriptomic analysis of the late stages of grapevine (Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon) berry ripening reveals significant induction of ethylene signaling and flavor pathways in the skin. Cramer, G. R., Ghan, R., Schlauch, K., Tillett, R., Heymann, H., Ferrarini, A., Delledonne, M., Fasoli, M., Zenoni, S., Pezzotti, M. 2014, BMC Plant Biology, 14, 370.
A rapid dehydration leaf assay reveals stomatal response differences in grapevine genotypes. Hopper, D.W., R. Ghan, and G.R. Cramer. 2014, Horticulture Research 1: 2; doi:10.1038/hortres.2014.2
Proteomics analysis indicates massive changes in metabolism prior to the inhibition of growth and photosynthesis of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) in response to water deficit. Cramer, G. R., Van Sluyter, S., Hopper, D. W., Pascovici, D., Keighly, T., Haynes, P. A 2013, BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:49
The Basic Leucine Zipper Transcription Factor ABSCISIC ACID RESPONSE ELEMENT-BINDING FACTOR2 is an important transcriptional regulator of abscisic acid-dependent grape berry ripening processes. Nicolas, P., Lecourieux, D., Kappel, C., Cluzet, S., Cramer, G. R., Delrot, S., Lecourieux, F 2013, Plant Physiology, 164(1), 365-383.
The Vitis vinifera C-repeat binding protein 4 (VvCBF4) transcriptional factor enhances freezing tolerance in wine grape. Tillet, R., Wheatley, M., Tattersall, E. A.R., Schlauch, K., Cramer, G. R., Cushman, J. C. 2012, Plant Biotechnology Journal, 10, 105-124.
Transcriptomic analysis during heat stress and the following recovery of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) leaves. Wang, L., Li, S., Cramer, G. R., Dai, Z., Duan, W., Xu, H., Wu, B., Fan, P. 2012, BMC Plant Biology, 12, 174.
Abiotic stress in plants: a systems biology perspective Cramer, G. R., Urano, K., Delrot, S., Pezzotti, M., Shinozaki, K. 2011, BMC Plant Biology, 11, 163.
Water deficit increases stilbene metabolism in Cabernet Sauvignon berries. Deluc, L.G., A. Decendit, Y. Papastomoulis, J.-M. Mérillon, J.C. Cushman and G.R. Cramer. 2011, JAFC 59:289-297
Abiotic stress & plant responses - from the whole vine to the genes. G.R. Cramer 2010, Aust J Grape Wine Res 16:86-93
Regulation of malate metabolism in grape berry and other developing fruits Sweetman, C., Deluc, L. G., Cramer, G. R., Ford, C., Soole, K. L. 2009, Phytochemistry, 70, 1329-1344
An expanded clay pebble, continuous recirculating drip system for nutritional studies of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) Wheatley, M. D., Tattersall, E. A.R., Tillett, R. L., Cramer, G. R. 2009, American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 60, 542-549.
CBF4 is a unique member of the CBF transcription factor family of Vitis vinifera and Vitis riparia. Xiao, H., Tattersall, E. A.R., Siddiqua, M. K., Cramer, G. R., Nassuth, A. 2008, Plant Cell and Environment, 31, 1-10
Water and salinity stress in grapevines: early and late changes in transcript and metabolite profiles. Cramer, G.R., A. Ergül, J. Grimplet, R.L. Tillett, E.A.R. Tattersall, M.C. Bohlman, D. Vincent, J. Sonderegger, J. Evans, C. Osborne, D. Quilici, K.A. Schlauch, D.A. Schooley and J.C. Cushman 2007, Functional and Integrative Genomics 7:111-134
Lay or Popular Publications
Home vineyards in Nevada. Allen, L., Hanson, W., Cramer, G. R. 2008, UNCE Magazine