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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Photo of flowering Arabidopsis thaliana purchased from Shutterstock.
Palo Alto, CA— Understanding how plants respond to stressful environmental conditions is crucial to developing effective strategies for protecting important agricultural crops from a changing...
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Figure from Energy and Environmental Science paper
Palo Alto, CA— What if we could increase a plant’s productivity by modifying the light to which it is exposed? This could increase the yield of important food and biofuel crops and also...
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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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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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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...
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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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Arthur Grossman believes that the future of plant science depends on research that spans ecology, physiology, molecular biology and genomics. As such, work in his lab has been extremely diverse. He identifies new functions associated with photosynthetic processes, the mechanisms of coral bleaching...
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What factors govern algae’s success as “tenants” of their coral hosts both under optimal conditions and when oceanic temperatures rise? A Victoria University of Wellington-led team...
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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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Stanford, CA—Everyone who took high school biology learned that photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae and select bacteria transform the Sun's energy into chemical energy during the...
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Illustration of a plant growing on a computer chip purchased from Shutterstock.
June 13, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— New work led by Carnegie’s Zhiyong Wang untangles a complex cellular signaling process that’s underpins plants’ ability to balance expending energy on growth and defending themselves from pathogens. These findings, published in Nature Plants, show how plants use complex cellular circuits to process information and respond to threats and environmental conditions.  

“Plants don’t have brains like us, and they may be fixed in place and unable to flee from predators or pathogens, but don’t feel sorry for them, because they’ve evolved an incredible network of information-processing circuits that enable them to ‘

Chlamydomonas photo courtesy of Natasha and Natalie Rothhausen.
June 13, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— New work led by Carnegie’s Petra Redekop, Emanuel Sanz-Luque, and Arthur Grossman probes the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which plants protect themselves from self-harm. Their findings, published by Science Advances, improve our understanding of one of the most-important biochemical processes on Earth.  

Plants, algae, and certain bacteria are capable of converting the Sun’s energy into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. It underpins our entire food chain and is responsible for the oxygen-rich nature of our atmosphere.

“In other words, life as we know it couldn’t exist without photosynthesis,

Paulinella micrograph courtesy of Eva Nowack.
June 8, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— About 1.2 billion years ago a blue-green bacterium was engulfed by a more complex cell, transforming our planet and allowing a tremendous diversity of plant life to emerge and continue to evolve.

The engulfed cyanobacterium—sometimes called blue-green algae, because of its characteristic pigments —was capable of performing a process called photosynthesis, by which the Sun’s energy can be converted into chemical energy. At first, its relationship with the more-complex cell was symbiotic. It supplied the food and the other cell provided protection. Over time, however, much of the photosynthetic bacterium’s genetic material was transferred

Stylized image of a young Arabidopsis leaf by Flavia Bossi
June 7, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— Organisms grow to fit the space and resources available in their environments, leading to a vast diversity of body sizes and shapes within a population of the same species. What are the genetic and physiological mechanisms that determine how big an organism can grow?

In insects and mammals, the cellular and molecular factors underpinning body size are well established. But in plants, this process has puzzled scientists for generations. How a plant controls the size to which it grows is a fundamental part of its developmental processes and impacts its likelihood of success in a particular environment.

“It is crucially important to understand how

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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

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

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 display high developmental plasticity and their growth is highly sensitive to environmental conditions. Plants have evolved many hormones that function as growth regulators, and growth is also responsive to the availability of nutrients and energy (photosynthates).

To understand how plant cells perceive and transduce various regulatory signals, and how combinations of complex