John Z. Kiss

John Z. Kiss

Professor & Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

(336) 334-5391
416 Eberhart Building


Plant physiology and development; space biology


Ph.D., Rutgers University


Plants rely on sophisticated mechanisms to interpret the constant bombardment of incoming signals so they can adjust their growth accordingly. In my laboratory, we are interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism and phototropism (directed growth in response to gravity and light, respectively). In the gravitropism project, we have been studying how statoliths (structures that function in graviperception) interact with the cytoskeleton in gravitropic signal transduction. In terms of phototropism, we have been examining the role of the photosensitive pigment phytochrome in the regulation of this tropism in both roots and stems. We have had a series of past spaceflight projects which used microgravity as a tool to understand the mechanisms of tropistic responses. Currently, we have been approved by NASA for several new experiments on the International Space Station to investigate plant tropisms. Our long-term goal is to understand how plants integrate sensory input from multiple light and gravity perception systems.

John’s publications and research profile are available at Google Scholar »


Kiss lab group at NC Space Grant Meeting

Recent Publications:

Shymanovich T., J.Z. Kiss. 2020. Growth and development of ecotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana: Preliminary experiments to prepare for a moon lander mission. Gravitational and Space Research

Kiss J.Z., S.C. Wolverton, S.E. Wyatt, K.H. Hasenstein K.H., J.J.W.A. van Loon. 2019. Comparison of microgravity analogs to spaceflight in studies of plant growth and development. Frontiers in Plant Science

Herranz R., J.P. Vandenbrink, A. Villacampa,  A. Manzano, W. Poehlman, F.A. Feltus, J.Z. Kiss, F.J. Medina. 2019. RNAseq analysis of the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to fractional gravity under blue-light stimulation during spaceflight. Frontiers in Plant Science

Vandenbrink J.P., R. Herranz, W. Poehlman, F.A. Feltus, A. Villacampa,  M. Ciska, F.J. Medina, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. RNAseq analyses of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings after exposure to blue-light phototropic stimuli in microgravity. American Journal of Botany 106: 1466–1476.

Vandenbrink J.P, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. Plant responses to gravity. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 92: 122–125

Vandenbrink J.P, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. Preparation of a spaceflight experiment to study tropisms in Arabidopsis seedlings on the International Space Station. Methods in Molecular Biology 1924: 207-214.

Lionheart G., J.P. Vandenbrink, J.D. Hoeksema, J.Z. Kiss. 2018. The impact of simulated microgravity on the growth of different genotypes of the model plant Medicago truncatula. Microgravity Science and Technology 30: 491–502.

Valbuena M.A., A. Manzano, J.P. Vandenbrink, V. Pereda-Loth, E. Carnero Diaz, R.E. Edelmann, J.Z. Kiss, R. Herranz, F.J. Medina. 2018. The combined effects of real or simulated microgravity and red light photoactivation on plant root meristematic cells. Planta 248: 691–704.

Johnson C.M., A. Subramaniana, S. Pattathil, M.J. Correll, J.Z. Kiss. 2017. Comparative transcriptomics indicate changes in cell wall organization and stress response in seedlings during spaceflight. American Journal of Botany 104: 1219-1231.

Vandenbrink J.P., R. Herranz, F.J. Medina, R.E. Edelmann, J.Z. Kiss. 2016. A novel blue-light phototropic response is revealed in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana in microgravity. Planta 244:1201–1215

Vandenbrink J.P., J.Z. Kiss. 2016. Space, the final frontier: a critical review of recent experiments performed in microgravity. Plant Science 243:115–119.

Dauzart A.J.C, J.P. Vandenbrink, J.Z. Kiss. 2016. The effects of clinorotation on the host plant, Medicago truncatula, and its microbial symbionts. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 3:3

Kiss J.Z. 2015. Conducting plant experiments in space. Methods in Molecular Biology 1309: 255-283. 4939-2697- 8_19.


TEDxGreensboro talk found here!

Dr. Kiss on NASA TV