Stephen Patrick Moose


Dr. Moose discovers genes that influence corn and related bioenergy grasses’ response to nitrogen supply. He develops new approaches to increase crop yields with lower input costs and help mitigate environmental issues associated with nitrogen fertilizer. His work reveals how genes cooperate to control plant traits important to both productivity and nutritional quality.

Primary Disciplines


  • Ph.D.: Genetics & Crop Science (co-major), North Carolina State University — 1995
  • B.S.: Biology, Case Western Reserve University — 1990

Research Interests

  • My research group applies functional genomics approaches to characterize genes that modulate productivity and sustainability in maize and related crop species: sorghum, Miscanthus, and sugarcane.  Each of these closely related grasses within the Andropogoneae tribe perform highly productive C4 photosynthesis and are important global sources of food, feed, bioenergy, and renewable biochemicals.  They also share a high degree of similarity in their genome and complementary advantages in the study of economically important traits.  Maize is a primary focus because of its advanced tools for relating genes to phenotypes.
  • Discovery of genes controlling N utilization.  High crop yields depend on sufficiently levels of available soil nitrogen (N), which in modern intensive agricultural systems is provided by N fertilizer.  Corn and other cereals typically use only one-third to one-half of applied N fertilizer, leading to higher energy use and input costs to the farmer, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions and nitrate levels in water supplies due to N losses.  Improving N use efficiency in corn would thus offer significant economic and environmental benefits to agriculture.  Prior agronomic studies have established that increasing the amount of biomass produced per unit of plant N, or N utilization,  offers the greatest potential for genetic improvement of nitrogen use efficiency in maize (Moose and Below, 2008).  We have documented phenotypic variation for N utilization in diverse maize populations (e.g. Uribelarrea et al., 2007; White et al., 2012; Ayodeji et al., 2012) that have also been the focus of functional genomics studies in our lab and others.  Important to these studies are the Illinois Protein Strains, created by more than century of selection for changes in grain protein concentration and N utilization (Lucas and Moose, 2012).  Recent work has identified a number of genes that regulate N utilization in maize hybrids, and further testing of these genes is in progress.  We are also beginning to extend our learnings from maize to sorghum, an emerging annual bioenergy crop.  Furthermore, because perennial grasses require less N for maximal biomass production, we are studying Miscanthus (see below) to learn how it achieves higher N utilization, with the potential to apply those findings to cereals like maize.
  • The regulatory impacts of small RNAs on plant growth and development.  Small RNAs play important roles in regulating plant development, stress response, viral immunity and maintaining genome integrity.  Most studies of small RNAs have focused on microRNAs that regulate protein coding genes, such as our discovery that microRNA172 is a key regulator of shoot maturation in maize, by downregulating the maize Glossy15 gene that maintains vegetative development (Lauter et al., 2005).  However, most plant small RNAs are derived from transposons, “jumping genes” that are present in many interspersed copies that form the majority of plant genomes.  We have recently used deep sequencing methods to monitor variation in the activities of transposon-derived small RNAs and how they impact hybrid vigor, the greater growth and stress tolerance of progeny produced from crosses of genetic diverse parents (Barber et al., 2012 and Li et al., 2012).
  • The structure and function of the Miscanthus genome. Complete genome sequences exist for the annual crops maize and sorghum, but are lacking for the related perennials Miscanthus and Saccharum (sugarcane, energy cane).  With the support of the Energy Biosciences Institute, I have led a research group to develop genomic resources for Miscanthus.  We have determined the content and activity of transposon repeat sequences in Miscanthus (Swaminathan et al., 2010), which also established Sorghum as a valuable reference genome for both Miscanthus and Saccharum (Wang et al., 2010).  We constructed a complete genetic map for Miscanthus sinensis (Swaminathan et al., 2012), where it was discovered that the Miscanthus genome arose via a recent whole genome duplication of a Sorghum-like genome.  We also recently reported an analysis of the majority of expressed genes within Miscanthus (Barling et al., 2013), including those that function in the rhizome tissue important for perenniality.  Our group is now focused on producing an assembled genome sequence for Miscanthus sinenis.

Chapters in Books

  • Moose, S.P. and F. E. Below (2008) Biotechnology approaches to improving maize nitrogen use efficiency, book chapter in Molecular Genetic Approaches to Maize Improvement, A.L. Kriz and B. A. Larkins (eds.) Springer-Verlag. Biotechnology_Approaches_to_Improving_Maize_N_Use_Efficiency.pdf
  • Lucas, C.J., Zhao, H., Schneerman, M. and Moose, S.P. (2012) Genomic changes in response to 110 cycles of selection for seed protein and oil concentration in maize. Book chapter in Seed Genomics. P. Becraft ed., Wiley. Lucas_et_al_Seed_Genomics_chapter.pdf
  • Long, S.P., Karp, A., Buckeridge, M.S., Davis, S.C., Jaiswal, D., Moore, P.H., Moose, S.P., Murphy, D.J., Onwona-Agyeman, S., Vonshak, A. (2015) Feedstocks for Biofuels and Bioenergy, chapter in e-book Bioenergy and Sustainability: bridging the gaps, Mendes-Souza, G., Victoria, R., Joy, C.A. and Verdade, L.M. eds., SCOPE, pp. 302-347

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Zhang, J., Fengler, K., Hemert, J., Gupta, R., Mongar, N., Sun, J., Allen, W., Wang, Y., Weers, B., Mo, H., Lafitte, R., Hou, Z., Bryant, A., Ibraheem, F., Arp, J., Swaminathan, K., Moose, S., Li, B., Shen, B. (2019) Identification and characterization of nac7, a novel stay-green QTL, that increases yield in maize. Plant Biotechnology Journal 17: 2272-2285.
  • Baek, Y.S., Goodrich, L.V., Brown, P.J., James, B.T., Moose, S.P., Lambert, K.N., Riechers, D.E. (2019) Transcriptome profiling and genome-wide association studies reveal GSTs and other defense genes involved in multiple signaling pathways induced by herbicide safener in grain sorghum. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 192,
  • Corray, S., Utterback, P., Ramchandran, D., Singh, V., Moose, S.P., Parsons, C.M. (2018) Nutritional evaluation of three types of novel ethanol coproducts. Poultry Science
  • Alkhalifah, N., Bubert, J., Bohn, M.O., Moose, S.P., Lawrence-Dill, C., and 38 other authors (2018) Maize Genomes to Fields: 2014 and 2015 field season, genotype, phenotype, environment, and inbred ear image datasets. BMC Data Notes 11: 452,.
  • Ramchandran, D., Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Moose, S.P., Rausch, K.D., Tumbleson, M.E., Singh, V. (2018) Changes in corn protein during storage and their relationships to dry grind ethanol production. Journal of American Oil Chemists’ Society 95: 923-932
  • Ramchandran, D., Moose, S.P., Low, K., Arp, J., Parsons, C.M., Singh, V. (2017) Ethanol yields and elevated amino acids in distillers dried grains with solubles from maize grain with higher concentrations of essential amino acids. Industrial Crops and Products 103: 244-250.
  • Ramchandran, D., Hojilla-Evangelista, M.P., Moose, S.P., Rausch, K.D., Tumbleson, M.E., Singh, V. (2016) Maize proximate composition and physical properties correlations to dry grind ethanol concentrations. Cereal Chemistry 93: 414-418.
  • Li, Q., Li, Y., Moose, S.P. and Hudson, M.H. (2015) Transposable elements, mRNA expression level and small RNA strand are associated with non-additive inheritance of gene expression in hybrid plants. BMC Plant Biology 15: 168
  • Spence, A.K., Boddu, J., Wang, D., James, B.T., Moose, S.P., Long, S.P. (2014) Transcriptional Responses Indicate Maintenance of Photosynthetic Proteins as Key to the Exceptional Chilling Tolerance of C4 Photosynthesis in Miscanthus×giganteus Journal of Experimental Botany 65: 3737-3747
  • Gifford, J.M., Chae, W.B., Swaminathan, K., Moose, S.P. and Juvik, J.A. (2014) Mapping the genome of Miscanthus sinensis for loci associated with biomass productivity. Global Change Biology Bioenergy, doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12201
  • Abe, A., Adetimirin, V.O., Menkir, A., Moose, S.P., and Olaniyan, A.B. (2013) Performance of tropical maize hybrids under conditions of low and optimum levels of nitrogen fertilizer application – grain yield, biomass production, and nitrogen accumulation. Maydica 58: 141-150.
  • Venkata, B.P., Lauter, N., Li, X., Chapple, C., Krupke, C., Johal, G. and Moose, S.P. (2013) Corn rootworm1- A novel maize mutant highly susceptible to foliar damage by the western corn rootworm beetle.  PLoS One 8: e71296.
  • Barling, A., Swaminathan, K., Mitros, T., James, B.T., Morris, J., Ngamboma, O., Hall, M.P., Kirkpatrick, J., Alabady, M., Varala, K., Hudson, M., Rokhsar, D.S., Moose, S.P. (2013)  A comprehensive expression study of the Miscanthus genus reveals changes in the transcriptome associated the rejuvenation of spring rhizomes.  BMC Genomics 14: 864 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-14-864,
  • Ayodeji, A., Menkir, A., Moose, S.P., Adetimirin, V., Olaniyan, A. (2013) Genetic variation for nitrogen use efficiency among a selection of tropical maize hybrids differing in grain yield. Journal of Crop Improvement 27: 31-52.
  • Dwiyant, M.S., Rudolph, A., Swaminathan, K., Nishiwaki, A., Shimono, Y., Kuwbara, S., Matuura, H., Nadir, M., Moose, S., Stewart, J.R., Yamada, T. (2012)  Genetic analysis of putative triploid Miscanthus hybrids and tetraploid M. sacchariflorus collected from sympatric populations of Kushima, Japan.  BioEnergy Research, DOI 10.1007/s12155-012-9274-3, published online October 26, 2012. 2013_Dwiyanti_et_al_BioEnergy_Res.pdf
  • Li, Y., Varala, K., Moose, S.P. and Hudson, M.E. (2012) The inheritance pattern of 24nt siRNA clusters in Arabidopsis hybrids is influenced by proximity to transposable elements. PLoS One 7: e47043.
  • Barber, W.T., Zhang, W., Win, H., Varala, K.K., Dorweiler, J.E., Hudson, M.E. and Moose, S.P. (2012) Repeat associated small RNAs vary among parents and following hybridization in maize. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences (USA) 109: 10444-10449.
  • Dweikat, I., Weil, C.F., Moose, S.P., Kochian, L., Mosier, N.S., Ileleji, K.E., Buckler, E.S., Brown, P.J., Peer, W.A., Murphy, A.S., Taheripour, F., McCann, M. and Carpita, N.C. (2012) Envisioning the transition to a next-generation biofuels industry in the Midwest. Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining 6: 376-386,
  • Swaminathan, K., Chae, W.B., Mitros, T., Varala, K., Xie, L., Barling, A., Glowacka, K., Hall, M., Jezowski, S., Ming, R., Hudson, M., Juvik, J., Moose, S.P. and Rokhsar, D.S. (2012)  Deep sequencing identifies markers for a framework genetic map and reveals recent allotetraploidy in Miscanthus. BMC Genomics 13: 142.
  • White, W.G., Moose, S.P. and Below, F.E. (2012) The sugar, biomass and biofuel potential of temperate by tropical maize hybrids. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 4: 1-13. White_12_GCB_Bioenergy_Energy_Maize_EtOH_potential.pdf
  • James, B.T., Chen, C., Rudolph, A., Swaminathan, K., Murray, J.E., Na, J.-K., Spence, A.K., Smith, B., Rokhsar, D.S., Hudson, M.E., Moose, S.P., and Ming, R. (2011) Development of microsatellite markers in autopolyploid sugarcane and comparative analysis of conserved microsatellites in sorghum and sugarcane. Molecular Breeding, 30: 661-669.
  • Wang, J., Roe, B., Macmil, S., Yu, Q., Murray, J.E., Tang, H., Chen, C., Najar, F., Wiley, G., Bowers, J., Van Sluys, M.-A., Rokhsar, D.S., Hudson, M.E., Moose, S.P., Paterson, A.H. and Ming, R. (2010) Microcollinearity between autopolyploid sugarcane and diploid sorghum genomes. BMC Genomics 11: 261
  • Swaminathan, K., Alabady, M., Varala, K., De Paoli, E., Ho, I., Rokhsar, D., Ming, R., Green, P.J., Meyers, B.C., Moose, S.P., and Hudson, M. (2010) Surveying the structure and expression of genomic repetitive elements from Miscanthus x giganteus. Genome Biology 11: R12,
  • Moose, S.P., Muszynski, M. and Guo, M. (2009) Putting the function in maize genomics. The Plant Genome 2: 103-106.
  • Gray, J., Bevan, M., Brutnell, T., Buell, C.R., Cone, K., Hake, S., Jackson, D., Kellogg, E., Lawrence, C., McCouch, S., Mockler, T., Moose, S., Paterson, A., Peterson, T., Rokshar, D., Souza, G.M., Springer, N., Stein, N., Timmermans, M., Wang, G.-L. & Grotewold, E. (2009) A recommendation for naming transcription factor proteins in the grasses. Plant Physiology 149: 4- 6.
  • Lauter, N., Moscou, M.J., Habiger, J., and Moose, S.P. (2008) Quantitative genetic dissection of shoot architecture traits in maize: towards a functional genomics approach. The Plant Genome 1: 99-110.
  • Wang, D., Naidu, S.L., Portis, A.R., Moose, S.P. and Long, S.P. (2008) Can the cold tolerance of C4 photosynthesis in Miscanthus x giganteus relative to Zea mays be explained by differences in activities and thermal properties of Rubisco? Journal of Experimental Botany 59: 1779-1787.
  • Wang, D., Portis, A.R., Moose, S.P. and Long, S.P. (2008) Cool C4 photosynthesis – Pyruvate Pi Dikinase expression and activity corresponds to the exceptional cold tolerance of carbon assimilation in Miscanthus x giganteus. Plant Physiology 148: 557-567.
  • Moose, S.P. and Mumm, R.H. (2008) Molecular breeding as the foundation for 21st century plant improvement. Plant Physiology 147: 969-977.
  • Uribelarrea, M., Moose, S.P., and Below, F.E. (2007) Divergent selection for grain protein affects nitrogen use efficiency in maize hybrids. Field Crops Res. 100: 82-90, Uribelarrea_et_al_divergent_selection_and_N_use.pdf
  • Lauter, N., Kampani, A., Carlson, S., Goebel, M. and Moose, S.P. (2005) microRNA172 downregulates glossy15 to promote vegetative phase change in maize. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci 102: 9412-9417.
  • Seebauer, J., Moose, S.P., Fabbri, B., Crossland, L. and Below, F.E. (2004) Amino acid metabolism in young maize earshoots: implications for assimilate movement and nitrogen signaling. Plant Physiol. 136: 4326-4334
  • Hwang, Y.S., Ciceri, P., Parsons, R., Moose, S.P., Schmidt, R.J. and Huang, N. (2004) The maize O2 and PBF proteins act additively to promote transcription of storage protein gene promoters in rice endosperm cells. Plant and Cell Physiology 45: 1509-1518.
  • Moose, S.P., Rocheford, T.R. and Dudley, J.W. (2004). Maize selection turns 100: a 21st century genomics tool. Trends in Plant Science 9: 358-364. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2004.05.005
  • Uribelarrea, M., Below, F.E. and Moose, S.P. (2004). Grain composition and productivity of maize hybrids derived from the Illinois Protein Strains in response to variable nitrogen supply. Crop Science 44: 1593-1600.
  • Moose, S.P., Lauter, N.L., and Carlson, S.R. (2004). The maize macrohairless1 locus specifically promotes leaf blade macrohair initiation and responds to factors regulating leaf identity. Genetics 166: 1451-1461.
  • Below, F.E., Seebauer, J.R, Uribelerrea, M., Schneerman, M.C. and Moose, S.P. (2004) Accompanying changes in crop physiology from long-term selection for grain protein in maize. Plant Breeding Reviews 24(1): 133-151.
  • Guo, H. and Moose, S.P. (2003) Conserved noncoding sequences among cultivated cereal genomes identify candidate regulatory sequence elements and patterns of promoter evolution. Plant Cell 15: 1143-1158.
  • Naidu, S.L., Al-Shoabi, K.A., Raines, C.A., Moose, S.P., and Long, S.P. (2003) Cold-tolerant C4 photosynthesis in Miscanthus x giganteus. Plant Physiology 132: 1688-1697.
  • Xu, F.-X., Laguda, E., Moose, S.P., and Riechers, D. (2002) Tandemly duplicated safener-induced glutathione S-transferase genes from Triticum tauschii contribute to genome- and organ-specific expression in hexaploid wheat. Plant Physiology 130: 362-373.
  • Salvador, R., Moose, S. Chassy, B. and Hodge, K. (2002) Magnanimous Iowans – a case study in bioethics, in Life Science Ethics, G.L. Comstock, ed. Iowa State Press.
  • Vicente-Carbajosa, J., Moose, S. P., Parson, R.L., and R. J. Schmidt (1997). A maize zinc-finger protein binds the prolamin box in zein gene promoters and interacts with the basic leucine zipper transcriptional activator Opaque2. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94: 7685-7690.
  • Moose, S. P. and P.H. Sisco (1996). Glossy15, an APETALA2-like gene from maize that regulates leaf epidermal cell identity. Genes and Development 10: 3018-3027.
  • Moose, S. P. and P. H. Sisco (1994). Glossy15 controls the epidermal juvenile-to-adult phase transition in maize. The Plant Cell 6: 1343-1355.
  • Fontes, E.B.P, Chank, B.B., Wrobel, R.L., Moose, S.P., O’Brian, G.R., Wurtzel, E.T., and R.S. Boston (1991). Characterization of an immunoglobulin binding protein homolog in the maize floury-2 endosperm mutant. The Plant Cell 3: 483-496.