3D projection of an Arabidopsis root tip. Credit: Dave Ehrhardt
Palo Alto, CA— In many ways, plants form the cornerstone of our society. They are key to the health of many ecosystems, underpin our entire food chain, provide us with fuel and medicine, and...
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Algae growing in a body of water, purchased from Shutterstock.
Palo Alto, CA— Algae have a superpower that helps them grow quickly and efficiently. New work led by Carnegie’s Adrien Burlacot lays the groundwork for transferring this ability to...
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Plant Physiology cover art
Palo Alto, CA— Plant science will be crucial for solving many of society’s most-pressing challenges—including climate change, food security, and sustainable energy—but what...
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Palm trees rise in front of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Washington, DC—California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday announced $20 million in his 2023 fiscal year budget to support Carnegie’s new research facility in Pasadena. The proposed budget...
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Artwork created by Sue Rhee using Wombo.art.
Palo Alto, CA—Green is a color that is almost universally associated with plants—for good reason. The green pigment chlorophyll is essential to plants’ ability to generate food; but...
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Margaret McFall-Ngai
Washington, DC—Pioneering microbiome specialist Margaret McFall-Ngai has been named the inaugural director of Carnegie’s newly launched research division focused on life and environmental...
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Rose rust on plant leaves. Image purchased from Shutterstock.
Palo Alto, CA—New work led by Carnegie’s Kangmei Zhao and Sue Rhee reveals a new mechanism by which plants are able to rapidly activate defenses against bacterial infections. This...
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Palo Alto, CA—Carnegie’s Devaki Bhaya is part of a Rice University led team that was recently awarded $2.8 million from the National Science Foundation for a five-year project to define...
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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 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%...
Meet this Scientist
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...
Meet this Scientist
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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Plants have a complex system of hormones that guide their growth and maximize their ability to take advantage of the environment. One mastermind hormone is called brassinosteroid. It can turn on...
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Carnegie’s Megan Ruffley was awarded a prestigious Plant Genome Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology from the National Science Foundation to study the genetics underpinning a plant...
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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 combat...
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Artwork is courtesy of Mark Belan | artscistudios.com.
September 22, 2022

Palo Alto, CA—Climate change and habitat destruction may have already caused the loss of more than one-tenth of the world’s terrestrial genetic diversity, according to new research led by Carnegie’s Moises Exposito-Alonso and published in Science. This means that it may already be too late to meet the United Nations’ proposed target, announced last year, of protecting 90 percent of genetic diversity for every species by 2030, and that we have to act fast to prevent further losses.

Several hundred species of animals and plants have gone extinct in the industrialized age and human activity has impacted or shrunk half of Earth’s ecosystems, affecting

Tidestromia oblongifolia in winter, Death Valley National Park, CA, USA, Photo b
August 23, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— Water is inextricably linked to our understanding of life—it makes up most of our planet’s surface and organisms across the tree of life depend on it to function. Yet the ability to survive extremely dry conditions for long periods is crucial to the life cycles of many species—including in plants, which can reproduce from desiccated pollen grains and grow from dried-out seeds.

“There are some desert plants and micro-animals, like tardigrades, which can lose up to 90 percent of their water and resume normal biological function within hours of being rehydrated. We want to know how they do it,” said Carnegie’s Sue Rhee, who was

Stephanie Hampton
August 12, 2022

Washington, DC— Aquatic ecologist Stephanie Hampton joined Carnegie as Deputy Director of Carnegie’s newly launched Division of Biosphere Sciences and Engineering at the end of July. She arrived from the National Science Foundation, where she was the director of the Division of Environmental Biology. She was also a professor and the former director of an interdisciplinary environmental research center at Washington State University.

“Stephanie’s experience leading the primary funder of basic ecological and evolutionary research in the U.S. has given her a 10-thousand-foot view of the field, which will help us as we implement a new, cross-disciplinary vision

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 ‘

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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

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

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

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

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