Photosynthesis
Learning about ‪photosynthesis is fun! Life as we know it on Earth couldn't exist without this amazing process. And what better way to understand and appreciate everything that plants and algae...
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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 from the lab of...
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Stanford, CA— With a growing world population and a changing climate, understanding how agriculturally important plants respond to drought is crucial. New work from a team led by Carnegie...
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Stanford, CA— 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...
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Stanford, CA— Algae may hold the key to feeding the world’s burgeoning population. Don’t worry; no one is going to make you eat them. But because they are more efficient than most...
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Stanford, CA— Four additional members of Stanford University’s faculty have been named Honorary Adjunct Staff Scientists at Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology. Stanford’s...
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Stanford, CA— You’ve probably seen news stories about the highly lauded, much-discussed genome editing system CRISPR/Cas9. But did you know the system was actually derived from bacteria,...
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Stanford, CA— During the daytime, plants convert the Sun’s energy into sugars using photosynthesis, a complex, multi-stage biochemical process. New work from a team including Carnegie...
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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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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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For millennia, humanity has used medicinal plants and plant-based compounds to treat a variety of neurological ailments including epilepsy, mania, migraines, and bipolar disorder. Now a team of...
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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 databases that offer an unprecedented...
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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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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 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

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

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