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David L. Des Marais

David L. Des Marais
  • Title Walter Henry Gale (1929) Career Development Professor; Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Email
  • Faculties Climate, Environment & Life Science, Food & Water Security
  • Address Room 48-325 15 Vassar Street Cambridge, MA, 02139
  • Telephone 617.258.6482
  • Research Website
  • Assistant Lumidi Campbell /


  • BA, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley, 2000
  • PhD, Biology, Duke University, 2008

Research Interests

The primary focus of research in the Des Marais Lab is to understand the mechanisms of plant-environment interaction. We use tools from molecular, quantitative, and population genetics to identify the physiological basis of plant response to environmental cues, and ask how these mechanisms constrain or facilitate plant breeding and evolutionary change.

Awards and Honors

  • Walter Fitch Prize, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Selected Publications

  1. Des Marais, D. L., J. R. Lasky, R. Guerrero, and S. V. Scarpino. 2017. Topological features of a gene co-expression network predicts patterns of natural diversity in environmental response. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284: 20170914.
  2. Des Marais, D. L., J. R. Lasky, P. E. Verslues, T. Z. Chang and T. E. Juenger. 2017. Interactive effects of water limitation and elevated temperature on the physiology, development, and fitness of diverse accessions of Brachypodium distachyon. New Phytologist 214: 132-144.
  3. Campitelli, B. E., D. L. Des Marais, and T. E. Juenger. 2016. Ecological interactions and the fitness effects of water-use efficiency: Competition and drought alter the impact of natural MPK12 alleles in Arabidopsis. Ecology Letters 19: 424-434.
  4. Des Marais, D. L., L. C. Auchincloss, E. Sukamtoh, J. K. McKay, T. Logan, J. H. Richards, and T. E. Juenger. 2014. Variation in MPK12 affects water use efficiency in Arabidopsis and reveals a pleiotropic link between guard cell size and ABA response. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 111: 2836-2841.
  5. Des Marais, D. L., K. Hernandez and T. E. Juenger. 2013. Genotype-by-environment interaction and plasticity: exploring genomic responses of plants to the abiotic environment. Annual Reviews in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 44: 5-29.
  6. Des Marais, D. L., J. K. McKay, J. H. Richards, S. Sen, T. Wayne and T. E. Juenger. 2012. Physiological genomics of response to soil drying in diverse Arabidopsis accessions. The Plant Cell 24: 893-914.
  7. Des Marais, D. L. and M. D. Rausher. 2008. Escape from adaptive conflict permits substrate specialization in a biosynthetic enzyme. Nature 454: 762-765.