Dr Amy Betzelberger

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Phone: 021 650 3715
Room No.: 5.12.1 (HW Pearson Building)

Post-Doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Adam West, in collaboration with Dr. William Bond, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Brad Ripley, Rhodes University at Grahamstown, South Africa, and Dr. Guy Midgley, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ph.D. in Plant Biology: December 2012
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA
Advisor: Elizabeth A. Ainsworth

B.S. in Biological Sciences
Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA
Cum Laude, University Honors Scholar, Honors Program Scholar


I am currently working on a highly collaborative project that aims to determine the response of maize to chronic drought under future atmospheric conditions, using maize cultivars, soil, and growth conditions relevant to southern Africa. This multidisciplinary investigation of the response of maize to interacting factors of elevated CO2, temperature, and chronic drought will fill an important knowledge gap and will seek to resolve and maximize the benefits of this knowledge. Measured plant responses will include plant physiology, biological and agronomic productivity, plant-soil interactions, genetic responses, and the evaluation of variation between cultivars. The knowledge gained from this project will be utilized to improve predictions of future crop production, and to select drought tolerant maize cultivars in a region where human food security is heavily dependent on the annual maize crop.

PhD dissertation project: I investigated the effects of rising tropospheric [O3] on current and future soybean (Glycine max) production by using Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) technology to increase the [O3] under field conditions in order to characterize intraspecific variation among soybean cultivars in response to O3. I also conducted an exposure-response experiment to define critical thresholds for damage and to understand how those may vary among cultivars. Finally, I am using historical records of soybean yield, growing season temperature, soil moisture and [O3] to test the effect of O3 on soybean and maize (Zea mays) yields over the past 30 years. My work will (1) deliver physiological and molecular tools for selecting O3 tolerant soybean germplasm, (2) identify and characterize the threshold for O3 damage for soybean under fully open-air field conditions, and (3) evaluate the statistical relationships that emerge between historical records of crop production and tropospheric [O3] variations.


Betzelberger AM, McGrath JM, Ainsworth, EA. (in prep). Ozone effect on historical maize and soybean yields across the Midwestern United States.

Betzelberger AM, Yendrek CR, Leisner CP, Nelson RL, Ainsworth EA. (2013). Ozone Exposure-Response for U.S. Soybean Cultivars: Linear Reductions in Photosynthetic Potential, Biomass and Yield. Plant Physiology. doi:10.1104/pp.112.205591.

Betzelberger AM. (2012) Current and future consequences of tropospheric ozone on soybean biochemistry, physiology, and yield. Dissertation.

Doty KF, Betzelberger AM, Kocot, KM, Cook, ME. (in review). Immunofluorescence localization of the tubulin cytoskeleton during cell division and cell growth in members of the Coleochaetales II. Cell growth. Journal of Phycology.

VanLoocke A, Betzelberger AM, Ainsworth EA, Bernacchi CJ. 2012. Rising ozone concentrations decrease soybean evapotranspiration and water use efficiency while increasing canopy temperature. New Phytologist. 195(1):164-171.

Betzelberger AM, Gillespie KM, McGrath JM, Koester RP, Nelson RL, Ainsworth EA (2010) Effects of chronic elevated ozone concentration on antioxidant capacity, photosynthesis and seed yield of 10 soybean cultivars. Plant, Cell and Environment. 33: 1569-1581.