Stanford, CA—Roots face many challenges in the soil in order to supply the plant with the necessary water and nutrients.  New work from Carnegie and Stanford University’s Jos...
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Washington, DC— Without eyes, ears, or a central nervous system, plants can perceive the direction of environmental cues and respond to ensure their survival. For example, roots need to extend...
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Science News magazine has selected José Dinneny, of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, as one of ten young scientists to watch in 2017. The researchers were selected because they...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Stanford, CA— Carnegie Plant Biology Acting Director Sue Rhee and staff scientist...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Stanford, CA— How do green algae grow so quickly?  Two new collaborations offer insight into how these organisms siphon carbon dioxide from the air for use in photosynthesis, a key factor...
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Palo Alto, CA— 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...
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Palo Alto, CA— Algae dominate the oceans that cover nearly three-quarters of our planet, and produce half of the oxygen that we breathe. And yet fewer than 10 percent of the algae have been...
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Pew announced the 2017 classes of biomedical scholars, Latin American fellows, and Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research today. Cesar-Cuevas Velazquez of the Department of...
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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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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...
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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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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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Stanford, CA—Carnegie’s Alexander Jones will receive the Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science. The honor includes publishing a short review, an editorial written about his work in the...
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Former Carnegie Staff Associate Martin Jonikas, now at Princeton University, was named one of 33 new Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators (HHMI). HHMI recognized Jonikas for his research on...
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Washington, D.C.—The American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB) awarded Wolf B. Frommer, director of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, the Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology...
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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

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 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

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