Senna tora photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Palo Alto, CA— Anthraquinones are a class of naturally occurring compounds prized for their medicinal properties, as well as for other applications, including ecologically friendly dyes....
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PolyP courtesy of Arthur Grossman and Emanuel Sanz-Luque
Palo Alto, CA— In a changing climate, understanding how organisms respond to stress conditions is increasingly important. New work led by Carnegie’s Arthur Grossman and Emanuel Sanz-Luque...
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Moises Exposito-Alonso
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Moises Exposito-Alonso has been selected for a National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, which recognizes “outstanding...
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Pennycress
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Sue Rhee and Moises Exposito-Alonso are leading members of an initiative to identify genes related to stress tolerance in the mustard plant field pennycress....
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Moises Exposito-Alonso
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie evolutionary geneticist Moises Exposito-Alonso was awarded a Max Planck Society’s Otto Hahn Medal for early career excellence. The prize is endowed with 7,500...
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Greenhouse in Germany where Exposito-Alonso did research.
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Moises Exposito-Alonso was selected for the Heidelberg Academy of Science’s Karl...
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Moises Exposito-Alonso
Washington, DC— Carnegie evolutionary geneticist Moises Exposito-Alonso was named a member of the 2020 class of Forbes’...
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The Carnegie Institution for Science is consolidating our California research departments into an expanded presence in Pasadena. With this move, we are building on our existing relationship with...
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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 ...
Explore this Project
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%...
Meet this Scientist
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...
Meet this Scientist
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...
Meet this Scientist
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Carnegie’s Sue Rhee and Moises Exposito-Alonso are leading members of an initiative to identify genes related to stress tolerance in the mustard plant field pennycress. Theirs was one of seven...
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Plants have a complex system of hormones that guide their growth and maximize their ability to take advantage of the environment. One mastermind hormone is called brassinosteroid. It can turn on...
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Stanford, CA— An international team of 12 leading plant biologists, including Carnegie’s Wolf Frommer, say their discoveries could have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and...
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Senna tora photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
November 24, 2020

Palo Alto, CA— Anthraquinones are a class of naturally occurring compounds prized for their medicinal properties, as well as for other applications, including ecologically friendly dyes. Despite wide interest, the mechanism by which plants produce them has remained shrouded in mystery until now.

New work from an international team of scientists including Carnegie’s Sue Rhee reveals a gene responsible for anthraquinone synthesis in plants.  Their findings could help scientists cultivate a plant-based mechanism for harvesting these useful compounds in bulk quantities.

“Senna tora is a legume with anthraquinone-based medicinal properties that have long

PolyP courtesy of Arthur Grossman and Emanuel Sanz-Luque
October 15, 2020

Palo Alto, CA— In a changing climate, understanding how organisms respond to stress conditions is increasingly important. New work led by Carnegie’s Arthur Grossman and Emanuel Sanz-Luque could enable scientists to engineer the metabolism of organisms to be more resilient and productive in a range of environments.

Their research focuses on polyphosphate, an energy-rich polymer of tens to hundreds phosphate groups which is conserved in all kingdoms of life and is integral to many cellular activities, including an organism’s ability to respond to changing environmental conditions.

“The ways in which polyphosphate synthesis and mobilization can be

Moises Exposito-Alonso
October 6, 2020

Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Moises Exposito-Alonso has been selected for a National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award, which recognizes “outstanding junior scientists” for their “intellect, scientific creativity, drive, and maturity.”

The honor is part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Program, designed to fund highly innovative, potentially transformative biomedical and behavioral research at all career stages. The awardees from all four of the program’s categories are recognized for their trailblazing abilities in a research area that falls under the agency’s mission.

“The

Pennycress
August 3, 2020

Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Sue Rhee and Moises Exposito-Alonso are leading members of an initiative to identify genes related to stress tolerance in the mustard plant field pennycress. Theirs was one of seven biofuel research projects awarded a total of $68 million over five years by the Department of Energy. 

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind and scientists from a wide variety of fields are applying their expertise to help understand and mitigate its effects. This includes plant scientists, whose work can help maintain food security in a warming climate, sequester carbon pollution from the atmosphere, and develop renewable energy

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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

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 produce cells called spores. Each spore divides forming a single set of chromosomes (haploid) --the gametophyte--which produces the sperm and egg cells.

Evans studies how the haploid genome is required for normal egg and sperm function. In flowering plants, the female gametophyte, called the embryo sac, consists of four cell types: the egg cell, the central cell, and two types of

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

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

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