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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Stanford, CA— Plant's leaves are sealed with a gas-tight wax layer to prevent water loss. Plants breathe through microscopic pores called stomata (Greek for mouths) on the surfaces of leaves. Over 40...
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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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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...
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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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Understanding how plants grow can lead to improving crops.  Plant scientist Kathryn Barton, who joined Carnegie in 2001, investigates just that: what controls the plant’s body plan, from  the time it’s an embryo to its adult leaves. These processes include how plant parts form different...
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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...
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Wolf Frommer believes that understanding the basic mechanisms of plant life can help us solve problems in agriculture, the environment and medicine, and  even provide understanding of human diseases. He and his colleagues develop fundamental tools and technologies that advance our understanding of...
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AudioStanford, CA— As every gardner knows, nitrogen is crucial for a plant’s growth. But nitrogen absorption is inefficient. This means that on the scale of food crops, adding significant levels of...
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Stanford, CA— Proteins are the machinery that accomplishes almost every task in every cell in every living organism. The instructions for how to build each protein are written into a cell’s DNA. But...
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Scientists, including Carnegie’s David Ehrhardt and Heather Cartwright, have exploited a way to watch protein trafficking to make cellulose in the formation of plant cell walls in real time.
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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

September 22, 2016

Stanford, CA—The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Simons Foundation have awarded José Dinneny, of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar grant. He is one of 84 scientists chosen out of some 1,400 applicants in a new program that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have created. The grant will provide $250,000 per year for five years, in addition to overhead expenses, for an award total of $1,500,000.

The award will be funded by the Simons Foundation and administered by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Faculty Scholars are “early-career scientists who have

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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

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

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

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 supporting

Wolf Frommer believes that understanding the basic mechanisms of plant life can help us solve problems in agriculture, the environment and medicine, and  even provide understanding of human diseases. He and his colleagues develop fundamental tools and technologies that advance our understanding of glucose, sucrose, ammonium, amino acid, and nucleotide transport in plants.

Transport proteins are responsible for moving materials such as nutrients and metabolic products through a cell’s outer membrane, which seals and protects all living cells, to the cell’s interior. These transported molecules include sugars, which can be used to fuel growth or to respond to chemical signals of

Young investigator Martin Jonikas has broad ambitions: to transform our fundamental understanding of photosynthetic organisms by developing game-changing tools. In the long run, his lab aims to increase photosynthetic efficiency of crops, which could improve food production around the world.

When photosynthesis first evolved, the atmosphere contained much more carbon dioxide and much less oxygen than it does today. As a result, the photosynthetic machinery of many organisms may not be completely optimized for today’s environment.

The protein responsible for fixing carbon dioxide—called Rubisco—worked very well in the Earth’s early atmosphere. As photosynthetic organisms

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 for