Wellington Muchero

Wellington Muchero

Wellington Muchero

Quantitative Geneticist in Plant Systems Biology


Dr. Wellington Muchero is a Research and Development Staff Member (Quantitative Geneticist) in the Plant Systems Biology Group in the Biosciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Dr. Muchero is the recipient of an DOE Early Career Award, 2017 - 2021, to study the innate host immunity which poses a fundamental challenge in the utilization of beneficial microbes for the sequestration of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and its fixation into economically valuable biofuels plant feedstocks. Using Salix, a biofuels feedstock and pioneer species in the warming arctic region, this project seeks to characterize unique host-derived genetic factors that allow select microbes to successfully evade defense mechanisms and establish a functional presence in the host endosphere with no adverse effects. Output from this project will inform efforts to rationally design and engineer plant-microbe interactions for application in DOE missions.

Dr. Muchero is a Co-Principal Investigator in the DOE Bioenergy Science Center to provide genetic solutions to overcome the key constraint of cell wall recalcitrance in enabling the economic conversion of plant biomass to biofuels. His research activities include efforts to target cell-wall recalcitrance phenotypes in naturally varying populations of P. trichocarpa and interspecific mapping pedigrees to identify genes that affect lignin content, sugar release, and fermentation efficiency. Key genes have been successfully identified affecting cell wall recalcitrance using a combination of QTL and Linkage Disequilibrium (LD)-based Association Mapping.


DOE Early Career Award (2017-2021)


  • DOE Early Career Award 2017 – 2021
  • Dissecting shared function in ancient proteins across plants and animals 2016 – 2017
  • Plant Microbe Interfaces 2014 – 2017
  • BioEnergy Science Center 2008 – 2017


  1. Bryan AC, Jawdy S, Gunter L, Gjersing E., Sykes R, Hinchee MA, Winkeler KA, Collins CM, Engle N, Tschaplinski .J, Yang X, Tuskan GA, Muchero W (co-senior author)., Chen JG. (2016). Knockdown of a laccase in Populus deltoides confers altered cell wall chemistry and increased sugar release. Plant biotechnology Journal 14: 2010-2020.
  2. Stevenson SR, Kamisugi Y, Trinh CH, Schmutz J, Jenkins JW, Grimwood J, Muchero W, Tuskan GA, Rensing SA, Lang D, Reski R. (2016). Genetic analysis of Physcomitrella patens identifies ABSCISIC ACID NON-RESPONSIVE (ANR), a regulator of ABA responses unique to basal land plants and required for desiccation tolerance. The Plant Cell, pp.tpc-00091.
  3. Bhagia S, Muchero W, Kumar R, Tuskan GA, Wyman CE. (2016). Natural genetic variability reduces recalcitrance in poplar. Biotechnology for biofuels 9: 1.
  4. Yang Y, Labbé J, Muchero W, Yang X, Jawdy SS, Kennedy M, Johnson J, Sreedasyam A, Schmutz J, Tuskan GA, Chen JG. (2016). Genome-wide analysis of lectin receptor-like kinases in Populus. BMC genomics 17: 699.
  5. Zheng K, Wang X, Weighill DA, Guo HB, Xie M, Yang Y, Yang J, Wang S, Jacobson DA, Guo H Muchero W, Chen JG. (2016). Characterization of DWARF14 Genes in Populus. Scientific reports 6: 21593.
  6. Dumitrache A, Akinosho H, Rodriguez M, Meng X, Yoo CG, Natzke J, Engle NL, Sykes RW, Tschaplinski TJ, Muchero W, Ragauskas AJ. (2016). Consolidated bioprocessing of Populus using Clostridium (Ruminiclostridium) thermocellum: a case study on the impact of lignin composition and structure. Biotechnology for biofuels, 9: 1.
  7. Muchero W (corresponding author), Guo J, DiFazio SP, Chen J-G, Ranjan P, Slavov GT, Gunter L, Jawdy S, Bryan AC, Sykes R, Ziebell A, Klápště J, Porth I, Skyba O, Unda F, El-Kassaby Y, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD, Martin J, Schackwitz W, Evans LM, Czarnecki O, Tuskan GA. (2015) High-resolution Genetic Mapping of Allelic Variants Associated With Cell Wall Chemistry in Populus. BMC Genomics 16:24.
  8. Evans LM, Slavov GT, Rodgers-Melnick, Martin J, Ranjan P, Muchero W, Schackwitz, Chen J-G, Brunner A, Tuskan GA, DiFazio SP. (2014). Populus trichocarpa population genomics, signatures of selection and adaptive trait associations. Nature Genetics 46:1089-1096.
  9. Muchero W (corresponding author), Labbé J, Ranjan P, DiFazio S, Tuskan GA (2014) Genome re-sequencing in Populus: Revealing large-scale genome variation and implications on specialized-trait genomics. T. Fenning (ed.) Challenges and Opportunities for the world’s Forests in the 21st Century. Springer Academic Publishers. Forestry Sciences 81: 587-595.
  10. McKown AD, Klápště J, Guy RD, Geraldes A, Porth I, Hannemann J, Friedmann M, Muchero W, et al. (2014) Genome-wide association implicates numerous genes underlying trait variation in natural populations of Populus trichocarpa. New Phytologist 203:535-553.
  11. Czarnecki O; Yang J; Wang X; Wang S; Muchero W, Tuskan GA, Chen J-G (2014) Characterization of MORE AXILLARY GROWTH Genes in Populus. PLoS ONE 9: e102757.
  12. Weston DJ, Timm CM, Walker AP, Gu L, Muchero W et al., (2014) Sphagnum physiology in the context of changing climate: Emergent influences of genomics and host-microbiome interactions to ecosystem function. Plant Cell & Environment (in press).
  13. Muchero W (corresponding author), Sewell MM, Ranjan P, Gunter LE, Tschaplinski TJ, Yin T, Tuskan GA (2013) Genome anchored QTLs for biomass productivity in Hybrid Populus grown under contrasting environments. PLoS ONE 8: e54468.
  14. 14. Porth I, Klápště J, Skyba O, Hannemann J, Mckown AD, Guy RD, DiFazio SP, Muchero W, Ranjan P, Tuskan GA, Friedman C, Ehlting J, Cronk QCB, El-Kassaby Y, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD (2013) Genome-wide association mapping for wood characteristics in Populus identifies an array of candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms. New Phytologist: 200:710-726.
    15. Porth I, Klápště J, Skyba O, Lai BSK, Geraldes A, Muchero W, Tuskan GA, Douglas CJ, El-Kassaby Y, Mansfield SD (2013) Populus trichocarpa cell wall chemistry and ultrastructure trait variation, genetic control and genetic correlations. New Phytologist 197:777-790.
    16. Geraldes A, DiFazio S, Slavov GT, Priya R, Muchero W, Hannemann J, Gunter L, Wymore AM, Grassa CJ, Farzaneh N, Porth I, Mckown AD, Skyba O, Li E, Fujita M, Klápště J, Martin J, Schackwitz W, Pennacchio C, Rokhsar D, Friedmann MC, Wasteneys GO, Guy RD, El-Kassaby Y, Mansfield SD, Cronk QCB, Ehlting J, Douglas CJ, Tuskan GA (2013) A 34K SNP genotyping array for Populus trichocarpa: Design, application to the study of natural populations and transferability to other Populus species. Molecular Ecology Resources 13:306-323.
    17. Slavov GT, DiFazio SP, Martin J, Schackwitz SP, Muchero W, Rodgers-Melnick E, Lipphardt MF, Pennacchio CP, Hellsten U, Pennachio LA, Gunter LE, Ranjan P, Vining K, Pomraning KR, Wilhelm LJ, Pellegrini M, Mockler T, Freitag M, Geraldes A, El-Kassaby YA, Mansfield SD, Cronk QCB, Douglas CJ, Strauss SH, Rokhsar D, Tuskan GA (2012) Genome resequencing reveals multiscale geographic structure and extensive linkage disequilibrium in the forest tree Populus trichocarpa. New Phytologist 196:713-725.

  15. Guo J, Morrell-Falvey JL, Labbé JL, Muchero W, Kalluri UC, Tuskan GA, Chen JG (2012) Highly efficient isolation of Populus mesophyll protoplasts and its application in transient expression assays. PLoS ONE 7(9): e44908.
  16. Induri BR, Ellis DR, Slavov GT, Yin T, Zhang X, Muchero W et al. (2012) Identification of quantitative trait loci and candidate genes for cadmium tolerance in Populus. Tree Physiology 32: 626-638.
  17. Muchero W et al. (2011) Genic SNP markers and legume synteny reveal candidate genes underlying QTL for Macrophomina phaseolina resistance and maturity in cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp.] BMC Genomics 12:8.
  18. Muchero W et al. (2010) Restriction site polymorphism-based candidate gene mapping for seedling drought tolerance in cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 120: 509-51.
  19. Muchero W et al. (2010) QTL analysis for resistance to foliar damage caused by Thrips tabaci and Frankliniella schultzei (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) feeding in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.). Molecular Breeding 25: 47-56.
  20. Muchero W et al. (2009) A consensus genetic map of cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp.] and synteny based on EST-derived SNPs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106: 18159-18164.
  21. Muchero W et al. (2009) Mapping QTL for drought stress-induced premature senescence and maturity in cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] Theoretical and Applied Genetics 118: 849-863.


  1. Muchero W, Chen J, Gunter LE, Jawdy S, Tuskan GA, Bryan AC, Difazio S, Guo HB, inventors. Transcription Factor Which Regulates Flavonoid, Phenylpropanoid, Tyrosine, and Tryptophan Pathways. United States patent US 20,150,353,948. 2015 Dec 10.
  2. Chen J, Gunter LE, Jawdy S, Muchero W, Tuskan G, Guo J, Ranjan P, DiFazio SP, Bryan AC, inventors; UT-BATTELLE, LLC, assignee. KEY GENE REGULATING PLANT CELL WALL RECALCITRANCE. United States patent US 20,160,053,275. 2016 Feb 25.