Palo Alto, CA—Carnegie’s Devaki Bhaya is part of a Rice University led team that was recently awarded $2.8 million from the National Science Foundation for a five-year project to define...
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Palo Alto, CA—Former Carnegie Staff Associate Martin Jonikas, now an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, was named one of 33 new Howard Hughes Medical Institute...
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Art and science exhibit at Morgan State University
Washington, DC—All year round, our lives are shaped by events that were made possible by the often underrecognized work of Black plant scientists. From the refreshment of enjoying a cool scoop...
Explore this Story
Plant Cell Atlas logo
Palo Alto, CA—The world’s population is growing, and global climate change will reshape our maps—shifting locations where human settlements can sustainably exist and thrive. Plant...
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Botryococcus braunii by © Karl Bruun posted on the AlgaeBase website.
Palo Alto, CA—Carnegie’s Arthur Grossman and Stanford University’s Ellen Yeh were awarded a $900, 000 grant this spring from the university’s public-private partnership...
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3D reconstruction of an Arabidopsis embryo courtesy George W. Bassel.
Palo Alto, CA—Dehydrated plant seeds can lay dormant for long periods—over 1,000 years in some species—before the availability of water can trigger germination. This protects the...
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Megan Ruffley
Palo Alto, CA—Carnegie’s Megan Ruffley was awarded a prestigious Plant Genome Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology...
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Toxic "red tide" algal bloom. Image purchased from Shutterstock.
Palo Alto, CA—New work from a Stanford University-led team of researchers including Carnegie’s Arthur Grossman and Tingting Xiang unravels a longstanding mystery about the relationship...
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Revolutionary progress in understanding plant biology is being driven through advances in DNA sequencing technology. Carnegie plant scientists have played a key role in the sequencing and genome annotation efforts of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the soil alga ...
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Matthew Evans wants to provide new tools for plant scientists to engineer better seeds for human needs. He focuses on one of the two phases to their life cycle. In the first phase, the sporophyte is the diploid generation—that is with two similar sets of chromosomes--that undergoes meiosis to...
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Zhiyong Wang was appointed acting director of Department of Plant Biology in 2018. Wang’s research aims to understand how plant growth is controlled by environmental and endogenous signals. Being sessile, plants respond environmental changes by altering their growth behavior. As such, plants...
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Evolutionary geneticist Moises Exposito-Alonso joined the Department of Plant Biology as a staff associate in September 2019. He investigates whether and how plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change by conducting large-scale ecological and genome sequencing experiments. He also...
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Plant genetic diversity in Central Europe could collapse due to temperature extremes and drought brought on by climate change, according to a new paper in Nature led by Moises Exposito-...
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The red algae called Porphyra and its ancestors have thrived for millions of years in the harsh habitat of the intertidal zone—exposed to fluctuating temperatures, high UV radiation,...
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Carnegie’s Devaki Bhaya has been named a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. She is one of 14 new members selected as “partners and collaborators in the pursuit of the...
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October 4, 2021

Palo Alto, CA—Carnegie’s Devaki Bhaya is part of a Rice University led team that was recently awarded $2.8 million from the National Science Foundation for a five-year project to define the social order of naturally occurring microbial communities.

Unlike the bacterial clones used in laboratory research, naturally occurring bacterial populations are havens of small-scale genetic diversity, making their relationships and evolutionary dynamics of great interest to the scientific community.

“From extremophiles living in deep sea vents to the beneficial bacteria living in the human gut or in association with plant roots, microbial communities are crucial to

September 24, 2021

Palo Alto, CA—Former Carnegie Staff Associate Martin Jonikas, now an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, was named one of 33 new Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigators. HHMI recognized Jonikas for his research on photosynthetic algae, which could revolutionize agriculture and biofuels by making crop plants better at converting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into usable energy sources such as sugars.

Each member of the cohort will receive roughly $9 million over a seven-year term. They were selected for “diving deep into tough questions that span the landscape of biology and medicine.”

Photosynthesis is

Art and science exhibit at Morgan State University
September 7, 2021

Washington, DC—All year round, our lives are shaped by events that were made possible by the often underrecognized work of Black plant scientists. From the refreshment of enjoying a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day, to the thrill of peering through a microscope on the first day of school, we have Black scientists to thank for these and so many more of the experiences that enrich our minds and nourish our bodies.

Without the work of Edmond Albius, vanilla beans would be too difficult to cultivate for mass consumption. Albius, born an enslaved individual, was freed after his breakthrough, but never received any profits from it, although his discoveries

Plant Cell Atlas logo
September 7, 2021

Palo Alto, CA—The world’s population is growing, and global climate change will reshape our maps—shifting locations where human settlements can sustainably exist and thrive. Plant science can help us understand and mitigate the coming challenges, including fighting hunger, promoting renewable energy, and sequestering carbon pollution from the atmosphere.

But in order to meet the moment, the scientific enterprise must prepare to leap ahead in its understanding of how plant cells function and respond to their environmental conditions. And to successfully advance plant science, the scientific community must foster the next generation of researchers and to ensure

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Revolutionary progress in understanding plant biology is being driven through advances in DNA sequencing technology. Carnegie plant scientists have played a key role in the sequencing and genome annotation efforts of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the soil alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Now that many genomes from algae to mosses and trees are publicly available, this information can be mined using bioinformatics to build models to understand gene function and ultimately for designing plants for a wide spectrum of applications.

 Carnegie researchers have pioneered a genome-wide gene association network Aranet that can assign functions

Plants are essential to life on Earth and provide us with food, fuel, clothing, and shelter.  Despite all this, we know very little about how they do what they do. Even for the best-studied species, such as Arabidopsis thaliana --a wild mustard studied in the lab--we know about less than 20% of what its genes do and how or why they do it. And understanding this evolution can help develop new crop strains to adapt to climate change.  

Sue Rhee wants to uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptive traits in plants to understand how these traits evolved. A bottleneck has been the limited understanding of the functions of most plant genes. Rhee’s group is

Plants are not as static as you think. David Ehrhardt combines confocal microscopy with novel visualization methods to see the three-dimensional movement  within live plant cells to reveal the other-worldly cell choreography that makes up plant tissues. These methods allow his group to explore cell-signaling and cell-organizational events as they unfold.

These methods allow his lab to investigate plant cell development and structure and molecular genetics to understand the organization and dynamic behaviors of molecules and organelles. The group tackles how cells generate asymmetries and specific shapes. A current focus is how the cortical microtubule cytoskeleton— an

Evolutionary geneticist Moises Exposito-Alonso joined the Department of Plant Biology as a staff associate in September 2019. He investigates whether and how plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change by conducting large-scale ecological and genome sequencing experiments. He also develops computational methods to derive fundamental principles of evolution, such as how fast natural populations acquire new mutations and how past climates shaped continental-scale biodiversity patterns. His goal is to use these first principles and computational approaches to forecast evolutionary outcomes of populations under climate change to anticipate potential future

Devaki Bhaya wants to understand how environmental stressors, such as light, nutrients, and viral attacks are sensed by and affect photosynthetic microorganisms. She is also interested in understanding the mechanisms behind microorganism movements, and how individuals in groups communicate, evolve, share resources. To these ends, she focuses on one-celled, aquatic cyanobacteria, in the lab with model organisms and with organisms in naturally occurring communities.

 Phototaxis is the ability of organisms to move directionally in response to a light source.  Many cyanobacteria exhibit phototaxis, both towards and away from light. The ability to move into optimal light