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The Carnegie Institution for Science is consolidating our California research departments into an expanded presence in Pasadena. With this move, we are building on our existing relationship with...
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Moises Exposito-Alonso
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie’s Moises Exposito-Alonso is one of four recipients of the American Society of Naturalists’ Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award in recognition of...
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A fluorescence image of the sea anemone Exaiptasia, courtesy of Tingting Xiang
Stanford, CA— Corals depend on their symbiotic relationships with the algae that they host. But how do they keep algal population growth in check? The answer to this fundamental question could...
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Researchers in Tübingen courtesy of Moises Exposito-Alonso.
Palo Alto, CA— Plant genetic diversity in Central Europe could collapse due to temperature extremes and drought brought on by climate change, according to a new paper in Nature led by Moises...
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Octopus Spring in Yellowstone National Park courtesy of Devaki Bhaya
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie plant scientists Devaki Bhaya and Arthur Grossman received a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological...
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Public domain image of a field of sorghum.
Palo Alto, CA— Carnegie plant biologists Sue Rhee and David Ehrhardt will lead one of 25 teams awarded a total of $64 million this week by the...
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Winslow Briggs by Robin Kempster, courtesy Carnegie Institution for Science.
Washington, DC—The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) will name a mentorship award in honor of legendary Carnegie plant scientist Winslow Briggs, who died in February.  The ASPB...
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Palo Alto, CA—Do plant scientists hold the key to saving vulnerable populations in a changing climate? How should plant researchers prepare to deploy their knowledge to maintain food security...
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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...
Meet this Scientist
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Dehydrated plant seeds can lay dormant for long periods—over 1,000 years in some species—before the availability of water can trigger germination. This protects the embryonic plant inside...
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Audio Stanford, CA—Everyone’s heard of the birds and the bees. But that old expression leaves out the flowers that are being fertilized. The fertilization process for flowering plants is particularly...
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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, which use it...
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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

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

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

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

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 and the impact of temperature and light on the bleaching process.

He also has extensively studied the blue-green algae Chlamydomonas genome and is establishing methods for examining the set of RNA molecules and the function of proteins involved in their photosynthesis and acclimation. He also studies the regulation of sulfur metabolism in green algae and plants.  

Grossman