Rebecca Dickenstien | Department of Biological Sciences

Rebecca Dickenstien

Professor Emerita

PubMed Search

Rebecca Dickstein, PhD. has long standing research interests in symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) in legumes with extensive experience in the model legume Medicago truncatula. Dr. Dickstein uses genetic approaches to study how the rhizobial symbiont infects host plant roots and what processes are essential in the latter stages of SNF. This work recently led the identification of several, as-yet unpublished, crucial putative transporters. It also led to the serendipitous discovery that expressing a specific transporter in plants leads to plants with enhanced growth. Dr. Dickstein has expertise in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry and biotechnology. In addition to research, Dr. Dickstein teaches the large, cross-listed undergraduate and graduate course Biochemistry I: Macromolecular Structure and Function each fall. During spring semesters, Dr. Dickstein teaches a graduate course alternating between Advanced Molecular Biology, Signal Transduction and Biochemical Regulation and a Topics course in SNF. Dr. Dickstein was promoted to Professor in 2007, having started at the University of North Texas in 2000 as an Associate Professor with tenure. She was at Drexel University as Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor from 1990-2000. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and a PhD in Biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University. Her long-standing interest in SNF in legumes dates from when she was a PhD student investigating the expression of bacterial genes in eukaryotic organisms. She has actively participated in SNF research since her Post-doc work at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University from 1985 to 1989.


  • Symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
  • Biological transporters.
  • Nitrogen use and assimilation.
  • Rhizobial infection of legume roots.


Not accepting new students at this time


  • National Science Foundation Genome Enabled Plant Research. IOS-1127155. GEPR: Genetic and cellular dissection of mutualistic plant-microbe symbioses in Medicago truncatula. (Co-PI). $770,696. 3/15/12-2/26/17.


  1. Veerappan, V., Jani, M., Kadel, K., Troiani, T., Gale, R., Mayes, T., Shulaev, E., Wen, J., Mysore, K., Azad, R.K. and Dickstein, R. (2016). Rapid identification of causative insertions underlying Medicago truncatula Tnt1 mutants defective in symbiotic nitrogen fixation from a forward genetic screen by whole genome sequencing. BMC Genomics 17:141. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2452-5.
  2. Veerappan, V., Kadel, K., Alexis, N., Scott, A., Kryvoruchk, I., Sinharoy, S., Taylor, M., Udvardi, M. and Dickstein. R. (2014). Keel petal incision: A simple and efficient technique for genetic crossing in Medicago truncatula. Plant Methods 10:11.
  3. Salehin, M., Huang, Y.-S., Bagchi, R., Sherrier, D.J. and Dickstein, R. (2013). Allelic differences in Medicago truncatula NIP/LATD mutants correlate with their encoded proteins' transport activities in planta. Plant Signal. & Behavior 8:1-5.
  4. Bagchi, R., Salehin, M., Adeyemo, O.S., Salazar, C., Shulaev, V., Sherrier, D.J. and Dickstein, R. (2012). Functional assessment of the Medicago NIP/LATD protein demonstrates that it is a high affinity nitrate transporter. Plant Physiology 160: 906-916.
  5. Meckfessel, M.H., Blancaflor, E.B., Plunkett, M., Dong, Q. and Dickstein, R. (2012). Multiple domains in MtENOD8 protein including the signal peptide target it to the symbiosome. Plant Physiology 159: 299-310.
  6. LĂ©ran, S., Varala, K., Boyer, J.C., Chiurazzi, M., Crawford, N., Daniel-Vedele, F., David, L., Dickstein, R., Fernandez, E., Forde, B., Gassman, W., Geiger, D., Gojon, A., Gong, J.M., Halkier, B.A., Harris, J.M., Hedrich, R., Limami, A.M., Rentsch, D., Seo, M., Tsay, Y.F., Zhang, M., Coruzzi, G. and Lacombe, B. (2014). A unified nomenclature of NITRATE TRANSPORTER 1/PEPTIDE TRANSPORTER family members in plants. Trends Plant Science 19:5-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2013.08.008.
  7. Salehin, M., Bagchi, R., Huang, Y.-S., Adeyemo, O.S., Sherrier, D.J. and Dickstein, R. (2015). The Medicago truncatula NIP/LATD transporter is essential for nodulation and appropriate root architecture. In, Biological Nitrogen Fixation, Volume I, Biological Nitrogen Fixation. Frans J. de Bruijn (Editor). ISBN: 978-1-118-63712-8. Wiley-Blackwell.
  8. Libault, M. and Dickstein, R. (2014). Advances in functional genomics research in legumes. In Legumes in the 'Omic Era, Springer New York (Gupta, S., Nadarajan, N., Gupta, D.S. eds.).


  1. MtNIP regulated plants with significantly increased size and biomass. R. Dickstein, M. Salehin and R. Bagchi. US patent number US 9,297,021. Issued March 29, 2016.