Washington, DC—The Carnegie Institution announced today that it is a grant recipient of the Grand Challenges Explorations initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Wolf B. Frommer...
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Stanford, CA —Light is not only the source of a plant’s energy, but also an environmental signal that instructs the growth behavior of plants. As a result, a plant’s sensitivity to light is of great...
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Stanford, CA—The scientific community needs to make a 10-year, $100 billion investment in food and energy security, says Carnegie’s Wolf Frommer and Tom Brutnell of the Donald Danforth Plant Science...
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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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Stanford, CA — The Plant Metabolic Network (http://www.plantcyc.org/), which is based at Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, has launched four new online...
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Washington, D.C. — Plant science is key to addressing the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, according to Carnegie’s David Ehrhardt and Wolf Frommer. In a Perspective published in...
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Stanford, CA—The major difference between plant and animal cells is the photosynthetic process, which converts light energy into chemical energy. When light isn’t available, energy is generated by...
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Stanford, CA— Along with photosynthesis, the plant cell wall is one of the features that most set plants apart from animals. A structural molecule called cellulose is necessary for the manufacture of...
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Carnegie researchers recently constructed genetically encoded FRET sensors for a variety of important molecules such as glucose and glutamate. The centerpiece of these sensors is a recognition element derived from the superfamily of bacterial binding protiens called periplasmic binding protein (...
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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....
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Today, humanity is increasingly aware of the impact it has on the environment and the difficulties caused when the environment impacts our communities. Environmental change can be particularly harsh when the plants we use for food, fuel, feed and fiber are affected by this change. High salinity is...
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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...
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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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It’s common knowledge that light is essential for plants to perform photosynthesis—converting light energy into chemical energy by transforming carbon dioxide and water into sugars for fuel. Plants maximize the process by bending toward the light in a process called phototropism, which is...
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In 1903 the Carnegie Institution established a Desert Laboratory to explore the properties of desert plants. From that humble stone building in Tucson, Arizona, eventually emerged our spectacular...
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Plants have tiny pores on their leaves called stomata—Greek for mouths—through which they take in carbon dioxide from the air and from which water evaporates. New work reveals ways that the systems...
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Inside every seed is the embryo of a plant, and in most cases also a storage of food needed to power initial growth of the young seedling. If not enough food is delivered from the leaves to the seed...
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January 30, 2017

Stanford, CA—New work from Carnegie’s Shouling Xu and Zhiyong Wang reveals that the process of synthesizing many important master proteins in plants involves extensive modification, or “tagging” by sugars after the protein is assembled. Their work uncovers both similarity and distinction between plants and animals in their use of this protein modification. It is published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The blueprint for making all proteins is encoded in DNA. The genetic code tells the cellular protein-making apparatus the correct order in which to string together the amino acids that are the building blocks of every protein. Often, after their DNA code has

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
December 14, 2016

Stanford, CA—Climate change and recent heat waves have put agricultural crops at risk, which means that understanding how plants respond to elevated temperatures is crucial for protecting our environment and food supply.

For many plants, even a small increase in average temperature can profoundly affect their growth and development. In the often-studied mustard plant called Arabidopsis, elevated temperatures cause the plants to grow longer stems and thinner leaves in order to cope with the heat stress.

New work led by Carnegie’s Zhiyong Wang uncovers the system by which plants regulate their response to heat differently between daytime and nighttime. It is published by

October 11, 2016

Stanford, CA—We generally think of inheritance as the genetic transfer from parent to offspring and that evolution moves toward greater complexity. But there are other ways that genes are transferred between organisms.

Sometimes a “host” organism can obtain genes from another organism that resides within its own cell (called an endosymbiont) through a process known as endosymbiotic gene transfer. At other times, an organism can obtain genes from a creature that lives in the surrounding environment, or from something that it eats, which is called horizontal gene transfer.

Furthermore, some levels of gene transfer can result in extensive loss of genes and genome reduction,

October 4, 2016

Stanford, CA— A feature thought to make plants sensitive to drought could actually hold the key to them coping with it better, according to new findings published by eLife, from Kathryn Barton of the Carnegie Institution for Science (Department of Plant Biology).

 Plants that are resistant to the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) have until now been understood to be bad at coping with drought. However, Barton and her team have now discovered ABA-resistant varieties that grow better than their normal neighbors when water is scarce. The new research suggests breeders should explore them for “stay green” traits.

 “When breeders are looking for plants able to withstand drought, they

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Carnegie will receive Phase II funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables individuals worldwide to test bold ideas to address persistent health and development challenges. Department of Plant Biology Director Wolf Frommer,  with a team of researchers from the International Rice Research Institute, Kansas State University, and Iowa State University, will continue to pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Transformative Strategy for Controlling Rice Blight.”

Rice bacterial blight is one of the major challenges to food security, and this project aims to achieve broad, durable

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 to genes for which no function had

Today, humanity is increasingly aware of the impact it has on the environment and the difficulties caused when the environment impacts our communities. Environmental change can be particularly harsh when the plants we use for food, fuel, feed and fiber are affected by this change. High salinity is an agricultural contaminant of increasing significance. Not only does this limit the land available for use in agriculture, but in land that has been used for generations, the combination of irrigation and evaporation gradually leads to increasing soil salinity.

The Dinneny lab focuses on understanding how developmental processes such as cell-type specification regulate responses to

Fresh water constitutes less than 1% of the surface water on earth, yet the importance of this simple molecule to all life forms is immeasurable. Water represents the most vital reagent for chemical reactions occurring in a cell. In plants, water provides the structural support necessary for plant growth. It acts as the carrier for nutrients absorbed from the soil and transported to the shoot. It also provides the chemical components necessary to generate sugar and biomass from light and carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. While the importance of water to plants is clear, an understanding as to how plants perceive water is limited. Most studies have focused on environmental conditions

It’s common knowledge that light is essential for plants to perform photosynthesis—converting light energy into chemical energy by transforming carbon dioxide and water into sugars for fuel. Plants maximize the process by bending toward the light in a process called phototropism, which is particularly important for germinated seedlings to maximize light capture for growth. Winslow Briggs has been a worldwide leader in unraveling the molecular mechanisms behind this essential plant process.

Over a decade ago Briggs and colleagues discovered and first characterized the photoreceptor family that mediates this directional response and named the two members phototropin 1 and

One way to adapt to climate change is to understand how plants can thrive in the changing environment. José Dinneny looks at the mechanisms that control environmental responses in plants, including responses to salty soils and different moisture conditions—work that provides the foundation for developing crops for the changing climate.

The Dinneny  lab focuses on understanding how developmental processes such as cell-type specification regulate responses to environmental change. Most studies have considered the organ or even the whole organism as a single responsive unit and ignore the potential diversity of responses by the various cell-types composing an organism. Dinneny has

Steroids are important hormones in both animals and plants. They bulk up plants just as they do human athletes, but the pathway of molecular signals that tell the genes to boost growth and development is more complex in plant cells than in animal cells. Unlike animals, plants do not have glands to produce and secrete hormones. Rather, each plant cell has the ability to generate hormones. Another difference is that animal cells typically have receptor molecules that respond to select steroids located within a cell's nucleus. In plants, steroid receptors are anchored to the outside surface of a cell’s outer membrane—the membrane that delineates a cell as a single unit.

Zhiyong Wang

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 building genome-wide