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In many ways, plants act as chemical factories, using energy from sunlight to produce carbon-based energy and taking nutrients from the soil in order to synthesize a wide variety of products. Carnegie scientists asked the question: How much does the portfolio of chemicals generated by plants vary, depending on the surrounding environment, and what can this tell us about how we interact with forests? The answer involved climbing into the Amazonian canopy, resulting in the discovery that the forest's chemical portfolios form a rich mosaic that varies with elevation and soil content.

Photosynthesis provides fixed carbon and energy for nearly all life on Earth, yet many aspects of this fascinating process remain mysterious. We do not know the full list of the parts of the molecular machines that perform photosynthesis in any organism. A team of researchers has developed a highly sophisticated tool that will transform the work of plant geneticists by addressing this problem and making large-scale genetic characterization of a photosynthetic algae possible for the first time.

Floods and droughts are increasingly in the news, and climate experts say their frequency will only go up in the future. As such, it is crucial for scientists to learn more about how these extreme events affect plants in order to prepare for and combat the risks to food security that could result. New work from Carnegie will allow researchers, for the first time, to measure the levels of a plant hormone involved in responses to drought stress in individual plant cells in real time.

The Solar System has a new most-distant member, bringing its outer frontier into focus. New work reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What's more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects. 

Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. New research uses satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis

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