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Plant Sciences

MSUís graduate programs in the Plant Sciences primarily train students in the genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry of plants and plant pathogens. From this educational experience, students will gain the academic and technical knowledge to change agricultural systems to feed expanding global populations, protect the food supply, and develop lifesaving medicines. The curriculum of study, which incorporates physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology, consists of some of the most cutting-edge research in the country. The close proximity to one of the largest geothermic sites in North America provides the researchers at Montana State University a unique opportunity to study some of the most unique plant species in the country.


Contact Us

Montana State University

Division of Graduate Education

Molecular Biosciences Program

P.O. Box 172580
Bozeman, MT 59717-2580

(406) 994-6652


Molecular BIOSciences |> Plant Sciences
|> Faculty |> David Sands, Ph. D

Biobased products and whatever,

Current Research

A team of us is developing new crops that are, due to our efforts, in increasing acreage in Montana. The approach focusses on providing consumers with foods that meet the their nutritional needs, especially those needs of specially challenged consumer groups (diabetes, depression, obesity, gluten intolerance, athletes and vegetarians). Our work is based on coupling human inherited disease genetic information, with plant genetics and with rural cooperatives. A paper outlining the need for a recommitment of agriculture to human nutrition, has been published in September 2006, in Nature Biotechnology. Objective: develop on average one new nutrition based crop worth $50 million/year for Montana. So far so good. To date we have developed gluten-free Montina, Timtana, and Proatina for people who suffer from wheat intolerance, and a wrinkled pea for diabetes type II. We also work on Camelina , a new crop that is high in omega-3 oil, hence good for human nutrition. Additionally we work with a plant-associated bacterium that nucleates ice formation, as it may be important in nucleating rainfall. We have also developed a lysine excreting bacterium for bread fermentation in Africa where lysine is inadequate in cereal based diets. We also work on using novel genetic selection methods for microbes to control weeds, including Striga, the worst weed in Africa.

Recent Publications

M.Vurro, A. Boari, A.L.Pilgeram, and D.C. Sands.2006. Exogenous amino acids inhihit seed germination and tubercle formation by Orobanche ramose (broomrape): Potential application for management of parasitic weeds. Biological Control 36: 258-265. Available online Nov 2,2005.

Morris, C.E. and D. C. Sands 2006, The breeder’s dilemma: resolving the natural conflict between crop production and human nutrition. Nature Biotechnology: 24: 1078-1080.

Morris C.E., Kinkel L.L., Xiao K., Prior P., Sands D.C. 2006 Surprising niche for the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. Infection, Genetics and Evolution).

W. L. Bruckart, III, F. M. Eskandari, M. C. Becktell, D. Bean, J. Littlefield, A. L. Pilgeram, D. C. Sands, and M. C. Aime. Phytopathology. Puccinia acroptili on Russian knapweed in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming

David Sands, Ph. D

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Updated: 8/16/08


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